DHANTERAS — THE BEGINNING OF DIWALI
Deepawali (Deepa-Lamps; Awali-Row) meaning ‘A row of lamps’ is also called Diwali in its shortened version. Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated all over India and also in many other countries across the globe. Each of the five days of Diwali has its own meaning and significance. Dhanteras marks the beginning of the festivities of Diwali.
Meaning of Dhan-trayodashi:
Trayodashi means “thirteenth day” of the Hindu fortnight and Dhan means “wealth”. Thus, as the name implies, Dhanteras falls on the thirteenth day of Krishna Paksha (Dark Fortnight) in the Hindu month of Kartik. Hence another name for Dhanteras is Dhantrayodashi. People worship Goddess Laxmi and Lord Kuber to bless them with prosperity and well being.
What is the Significance of Dhanteras?
In the story of Sagar Manthan, it was on this day that Lord Dhanvantari appeared with the nectar urn from the churning ocean. Along with him, jewellery and precious gems also emerged from the ocean. Since then this day was named ‘Dhanteras’ and the tradition of buying utensils and jewellery started.
Ayurvedic vaidyas (doctors) consider Lord Dhanwantri as the Father of Ayurveda-the bestower of health and celebrate this day as his birthday. They distribute neem leaves and mishri (candy sugar) as prasad to visitors.
Dhan also means Wealth. Undoubtedly, Dhanteras is also very important for businessmen, traders and merchants. Goddess Lakshmi along with Lord Kubera (God of wealth) is worshipped on this day.
Dhanteras is also known as the day of “Yama Deep Daan”. Lord Yama (God of Death) is worshipped on this day to provide prosperity and well-being to all and to avert untimely death. Lord Kuber is generally worshipped through the medium of Kuber Yantra.
What is done on Dhanteras?
The following are the different rituals and traditions followed during Dhanteras:
Dhanteras marks the grand finale of all major Diwali shopping. It is auspicious to purchase a new cooking/eating vessel this day. The new utensil purchased is filled with puffed rice (kheel) and some coins. This vessel is then kept at the place where Lakshmi Pooja is to be done on Diwali night. It is believed that on Diwali night, Lord Dhanwantri will fill this vessel with health, while Lord Kubera will fill it with wealth.
Different types of offerings are prepared on this day in different regions of India. In Maharashtra, there is a tradition to offer a Naivedya (holy offering) of lightly crushed dry coriander seeds and jaggery. Whole wheat porridge or atte ka halwa or lapsi is prepared and distributed as prasad in parts of North and East India. In most households, Panchamrit, a preparation made with honey, curd, milk, ghee and sugar is distributed as prasad. Also, Kheer made from rice, milk and sugar is another favourite offering.
3. YAM DEEP DAAN:
In the evening, one a four-faced Diya or thirteen oil lamps made of wheat flour are lit. Devotees keep these lamps outside the house with their flame facing southwards. (This is the only day in the whole year when the lamp’s flame is kept facing southwards.)
The following mantra is to be recited while lighting the lamp:
मृत्युना पाशदंडाभ्यां कालेन श्यामसह । त्रयोदश्यांदिपदानात् सूर्यजः प्रीयतां मम ।।
Meaning: I offer these thirteen lamps to Yama, the son of the Lord Sun so that He liberates me from the clutches of death and bestows His blessings.
What can you buy for Dhanteras?
You can buy any of the following things on Dhanteras:
- Silver/gold jewellery or coins.
- Utensils, preferably copper or brass vessels.
- Gomati Chakra, Cowries, Gunja Seeds, Conch/Shankh, Lotus seed mala/Gatte ki Mala.
- Coriander seeds; preferable plant some of these on Dhanteras.
- New books of accounts.
- Idols of Laxmi, Ganesha & Kuber.
What shouldn’t you buy for Dhanteras?
It is not considered auspicious to purchase the following on Dhanteras:
- Avoid buying steel, iron, aluminium, plastic, glass or ceramic utensils on Dhanteras. Rahu has an influence on these elements.
- Avoid buying a vehicle/car on Dhanteras.
- Sharp instruments like knives, scissors, etc.
- Black or dark coloured articles.
- Oil, Ghee, Butter.
- Gifts for others.
- Wood or wooden articles.
Why do we buy broom on Dhanteras?
Buying a new broom on Dhanteras is a very important traditional ritual. We welcome Goddess Lakshmi to our clean houses to destroy all the negative energies and get rid of financial problems. This brings prosperity and fortune to the family. It also helps to get rid of debts. Whenever you buy a new broom, tie a white thread to it. This will ensure that Maa Lakshmi resides in your house permanently. Purchasing three brooms is considered auspicious.