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Dhanteras marks beginning of five-day-long Diwali festivities

It is believed to bring good fortune for the family in the coming year. Many people wait for their entire year for this auspicious day to purchase vehicles and electronics.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The festival of Dhanteras marks the first day of the grand celebration of Deepavali that lasts five days. It is celebrated on the 13th day of the Krishna Paksha in the month of ‘Kartik’ according to the Hindu lunar calendar. ‘Dhann’ means money or wealth and ‘Terus’ signifies the thirteenth day. This year Dhanteras is on October 22. This is devoted to Dhanvantri, the God of Ayurveda, it is believed that Dhanvantri helped mankind by imparting the wisdom of Ayurveda and treating diseases. Ayurveda has been around for centuries and still is being used to cure many diseases all across the globe. The Indian Ministry of AYUSH celebrates this day as The National Ayurveda day. Dhanteras was first announced on National Ayurveda Day on October 28, 2016.

The legend behind Dhanteras
According to ancient Hindu beliefs, the festival of Dhanteras is associated with a very interesting story of a 16-year-old son of King Heema. According to the legend, it was predicted by an Astrologer that the prince, after four days of marriage, will get bitten by a snake and die. On the fateful night, his wife surrounded the entrance of their chamber with gold and silver ornaments and stayed up all night telling the prince stories and singing songs to prevent him from sleeping.

The jewellery and the ornaments dazzled the god of death ‘Yama’, so much that he decided to let the prince live. The next day was celebrated as the Festival of Dhanteras, which was marked with his victory over death.
The goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi is also worshipped on Dhanteras. People prepare for the arrival of the goddess by waking up early and cleaning their houses. This festival also begins the preparations for the forthcoming celebration of Diwali. After cleaning the house, people get ready and wear new clothes.

It is a common ritual to purchase valuable items like ornaments, gemstones and some household appliances, made of metal on this day. It signifies bringing home Goddess Lakshmi in form of ornaments and other metals, it denotes bringing wealth and prosperity into one’s house. It is believed to bring good fortune for the family in the coming year. Many people wait for their entire year for this auspicious day to purchase vehicles and electronics. In the evening, all members of the family get together and pray to Lord Ganesha along with Goddess Lakshmi.

A tradition in India, especially in the southern states involves preparation of traditional special sweets made of different grains; denoting wealth and a type of herbal tea; denoting Ayurvedic medicine. It is believed that this tea maintains balance in the body. The day after the celebration of Dhanteras is called Narak Chaturdashi. In Sanskrit ‘Narak’ means Hell and ‘Chaturdashi’ means the 14th day. The day is also known as ‘Yamadeedan’. The female members of the household light earthen lamps ‘Diyas’ which are then kept burning throughout the night to please the god of death Yama.