Dhanteras is a Hindu festival, which has been celebrated on the day before Diwali. Being a Hindu majority country, people in India celebrate both Diwali and Dhanteras with immense enthusiasm. Though Diwali is well-known festival, people outside India have lesser knowledge about the significance of Dhanteras. The celebration of Diwali is incomplete without the celebration of Dhanteras in India. Not just India, Dhanteras is also celebrated in Nepal before the “Tihar” festival.
The word “Dhanteras” is a blend of two Sanskrit words. The first word is “Dhan”, and it means wealth. The second word is “Teras”, which means thirteenth. Since the festival has been celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Dark Fortnight (Krishna Paksha), it has been named as “Dhanteras”. In western world, thirteen has been regarded as unlucky number. But, in India, there is no inauspiciousness associated with the number thirteen.
Legends Associated with Dhanteras
The Tale of King Hima
Most of the Hindu festivals and rituals are linked with Hindu mythological anecdotes. The story of Dhanteras starts with King Hima. After his marriage, he went to consult an astrologer. To his surprise, the astrologer told him that he would die four days after his marriage. Listening to this, queen felt extremely sad and heartbroken. She kept all her dazzling ornaments in the sleeping chamber of King Hima. When King Hima was sleeping in that chamber, Yama came in disguise of a serpent to kill the king. Due to shining jewelries, Yama could not see the king in the sleeping chamber. As a result, the king had a narrow escape from certain death. Since then, the day is celebrated as Dhanteras.
The Tale of Lord Indra and Goddess Laxmi
Another mythological anecdote says that the Dhanteras came from Lord Indra. Once, Rishi Durvasa (a Hindu saint) had cursed Lord Indra. Due to the curse of Durvasa, Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) left Indra. Soon King Indra was defeated by the demons, and he was compelled to live in exile. Indra went to the Lord Vishnu. As per Lord Vishnu’s suggestion, “Samudra Manthan” process was conducted so that Indra can find Amrit to become invincible. After “Samudra Manthan”, Laxmi appeared with Amrit in her hand. The day reappearance of Goddess Laxmi is celebrated as Dhanteras.
Apart from these two popular tales, many people also believe that Dhanteras is a day where the richest Hindu God, Kuver feels generous. He gives away his wealth to people. So, the day is celebrated as Dhanteras.
Various Dhanteras Rituals
On the day of Dhanteras, people commonly worship Goddess Laxmi. If she becomes happy with your worship, she will bless you with a lot of wealth. Some of the commonest rituals on the day of Dhanteras are:
- Purchasing Jewelries: Since glittering jewelries saved life of King Hima, people commonly purchase jewelries on this day. Buying jewelries on this day is considered as an auspicious ritual. The ritual will protect you and your family from the rage of the Lord of Death, Yama.
- Buying Gold Coins: People purchase gold coins to celebrate the day of wealth. Buying gold or silver on the day of Dhanteras brings wealth and happiness.
- Investment in Gold: Instead of buying gold jewelries or gold coins, a lot of people invest in gold on the day of Dhanteras. Investment in gold is completely a strategic decision. Still, a lot of investors have some superstitions. In India, many people believe that investment in gold on this day will fetch excellent return on the investment.
- Buying Metal Substances: In India, a lot of people live with mid and low level income. Purchasing gold or silver may not be possible for everyone. Such people usually celebrate Dhanteras by purchasing metallic utensils and other substances for home.
- Lighting up Oil Lamps: On the day of Dhanteras, Hindus light up their houses with oil lamps in the evening. It is believed that Lord Kuver gives portion of his wealth to the people on this day. To welcome Lord Kuver, people light up the houses with oil lamps.
Overall, Dhanteras is not just auspicious but a unique day of celebration for the followers of Hinduism. Celebration for Diwali, which is the biggest Hindu festival, begins on the day of Dhanteras.