Today is Dhanteras and it is considered to be the first day of Diwali. Dhanteras also called Dhanvantari Trayodashi and is celebrated to worship god Dhanvantari, who is considered to be the teacher of all physicians and the originator of Ayurveda. The festival falls on the thirteenth lunar day of the dark fortnight, or the Krishna Paksha, in the month of Ashwin, as per the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar. We have the tendency to follow certain rituals and customs blindly. Rarely do we give a thought as to why we are doing this? Hence out of sheer curiosity, we plan to understand the significance of each day of Diwali and why we celebrate it.
As per the Hindu customs, on this day people buy gold and silver as they associate this day with wealth. However Dhanvantri is provider of good health and not wealth. It is believed that when gods alongside demons churned Amrita in an ocean, God Dhanvantari appeared carrying a jar full of the nectar. Dhanvatari is an incarnation of the lord Vishnu and is the physician of gods. As this day is the birthday of Dhanwantri, all the new innovations related to medical science are established at this day.
Since it has become a custom, women go shopping and buy gold and silver of their choice. The association of this day with wealth came from the understanding that on this day of Dhantrayodashi Goddess Lakshmi came out from the ocean of milk during the churning of the Sea. Hence, Goddess Lakshmi, along with Lord Kuber is worshiped on the day of Trayodashi.
There are multiple stories and beliefs when it comes to celebration of Dhanteras and Diwali festival as a whole.
It is said that Goddess Lakshmi visits our house on this day. Hence, people perform Lakshmi puja to welcome her into the house and request her to stay all year along. Diyas are lit in the evening to ward off the evil spirits. A proper house cleaning is done where we discard all the unnecessary things which resembles to starting a fresh new year with new clean things. The houses are then decorated with flowers and rangoli along with drawing footprints with rice and sindoor signifying Goddess Lakshmi entering the house.
There is one more legend behind the celebration of this day. It is a story of 16 year old son of King Hima who was forecasted to die on the 4th day of his marriage by getting bitten by a snake. However, his wife was very clever and decided to save her husband’s life. She kept her husband awake whole night by keeping all her ornaments of gold and silver heaped up on the doorway and lit diyas in her room. She then started reciting stories and singing songs to keep her husband awake.
The god of Death Yama arrived in the form of serpent. Due to dazzling shine of lighted lamps and jewellery he climbed over it and waited. He waited there whole night listening to the songs and stories sung by the prince’s wife. Soon it was morning and he went away without taking his soul. The wife indeed saved the husband’s life and the celebration started by calling it as dhanteras.
There are different traditions and customs which are followed. People in villages decorate their cattle and worship as they understand them their major source of income. South Indians offer decorated cows as an embodiment of the Goddess Lakshmi. Some people chant mantras, bhakti songs and aarti for Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh. People wear new clothes and jewellery and gambling games are common on the day.
We hope that this auspicious day brings lots of health, wealth and happiness in your life.