Diwali is the most awaited festival for the Hindus which is celebrated with much enthusiasm and fervor. Hindus particularly in the Northern states get themselves much involved in the 5-day festival celebrations from the day of Dhanteras. Generally the festival falls in the months of Oct / Nov every year. Dhanteras is followed by Naraka Chaturdasi which is known as Kalichaudas in the Northern states i.e the 14th day after Kumara Purnima / Kojagiri Purnima. The next day which is a no moon day / moonless night, is celebrated as Diwali / Deepavali Amavasya.
The next day after Diwali is celebrated as New Year's day by the people of few regions of the country particularly by the business community. The start the new accounts from this day. The auspicious Hindu month of Kartika Masam starts after Deepavali in some regions of the country. The second day after Diwali is celebrated as Bhai Dooj. Thus the festival is celebrated continuously for five days in some regions of the Northern states.
Importance of the DhanterasAs the word 'dhan' implies wealth, the day is very auspicious for the Hindus particularly for the business community. Mostly, people renovate their houses / shops and decorate these with flowers and lighting. In the olden days oil and cotton wicks were used to lit the earthen lamps but over a period of time there is a change in the way of illuminating. These days people are much inclined towards colorful electric lamps and the latest trend is the use of LED lamps. The lighting and decoration is done as a gesture of inviting and welcoming Lakshmi Devi - the Hindu Goddess of Wealth and thus drive away the evil forces.
The women folk of the family compulsorily make purchases of gold and silver items as a gesture of welcome to wealth and prosperity. There is a strong belief that purchasing gold / silver items on this day would help in multiplying the wealth manifold. In the evening on this day, people perform pooja in the evenings after lighting the lamps. In some regions people even keep heap of currency coins in a plate or a bowl and place it in front of Goddess Lakshmi. After the pooja, people are engaged in bhajans and Lakshmi Aarti and thus seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity of the family.
Significance of DhanterasThe word Dhanteras / Dhana Trayodasi which has originated from Sanskrit language. The meaning of Dhan / Dhana is wealth and the meaning of teras / trayodasi is 13 i.e the 13th day. There are certain mythological stories / legends in connection with the celebration of Dhanteras.
As per the legend, during Samudra Manthan when the demons (asuras) and gods (devatas) were churning the mighty ocean in order to drill out the divine nectar amrit which is believed to bestow one with immortality, many precious items emerged out from the depths of the ocean. Some of these are Airawat (white elephant) and other such items which were taken by the gods and demons as per their interests and liking. And during the process of churning, on the auspicious day of Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi emerged out from the depths of the ocean with a dazzling light, smiling face and with a pot full of gold coins in her hands. Thus the day is considered highly auspicious and is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. In other words, the day is considered as the birth day of Goddess Lakshmi, though not in the true sense. From thence, Dhanteras has great significance in bringing wealth and prosperity to the family.
As per other historical story, in the olden days there ruled a king named Hema whose son was short lived and as per some prediction, his life would come to an end on the fourth day after his marriage. However, the parents in view of giving him all the pleasures of life got him married to a young girl. As a true Hindu wife, the lady surrounded her husband with gold and silver coins and lit lamps in the entire premises which spread dazzling light in the atmosphere. She did not allow her husband to sleep but kept him awake by telling him religious stories and singing bhajans the entire night. As schedule, Lord Yama (the Hindu god of death) arrived on time to take away the life of the young prince. But due to the dazzling light he find it difficult to enter the premises. In addition to this, he was mesmerized listening to the bhajans sung by the young newly wed bride. Thus the time was out and Yama had to return without taking the life of the young prince. Thus the newly wed bride could succeed in her mission and saved her husband's life.
The day is celebrated in different regions in different ways, however the significance and its importance remains unaltered and people celebrate the festival with great fervor.
Date of Dhanteras this year (2020): 13th October, 2020 (Friday)