The festival of Dhanteras
Dhanteras festival is believed to mark the beginning of good times and celebrated a day before Diwali, a major hindu festival. Dhanteras holds special significance for the businessmen due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day. Dhanteras indicates the beginning of Diwali celebrations. It is on this day on which people purchase precious metals with a belief that they will bring prosperity. Dhanteras is also known as Dhantryaodashi or Dhanwantri Triodasi.
Dhanteras is observed differently by different communities. It is considered to be highly auspicious day to do new purchases and investment. Most people complete the Diwali shopping on the day. The first lamps of Diwali are lit on the day. People hang up paper lanterns with festoons and sends out the message of the arrival of Diwali.
Legend behind Dhanteras
An interesting story about this day is of the sixteen year old son of King Hima. As per the stars, he was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that fateful day, his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband’s boudoir and lighted many lamps all over the place.
Then she went on telling stories and singing songs. When Yama, the god of death arrived there in the guise of a serpent, he got blinded by that dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the prince’s chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he went away without harming the boy.
The legend of Samudra Manthan
But as with almost any Hindu festival, there is more than one mythological tale behind it. Another version has it that when the gods and demons were churning the ocean in search of amrit, the elixir of life, Dhanvantari, the physician of all gods, emerged from the ocean with the amrit in his hands. That day became known as Dhanteras, and it marks the discovery of Ayurveda, the science of healing using natural ways. Explains Hemanand Joshi, another senior priest with Hanuman Mandir, “Dhanteras is the day of amrit sidhi yog. Also, an atte ka diya is placed outside the house for Yamraj pooja to avoid akaal mrityu (premature or untimely death)”.
During Samudra manthan (churning of ocean), it is believed that Dhanvantari (the physician of the Gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras.
The legend of Vishnu and Laxmi
Once Goddess Lakshmi wanted to accompany Lord Vishnu to the earth during one of His visits. Lord Vishnu agreed to take Her with him provided She will not will not look in the southern direction and fall for earthly temptations. But Goddess Lakshmi looked in the southern direction and she saw yellow mustard flowers and started dancing in the fields and decorated herself with the flowers. She fell for earthly temptations.Further south she saw sugarcane fields and started enjoying the sugarcane juice.
Lord Vishnu soon found out that Goddess Lakshmi had violated the conditions and said that now you will need to spend 12 years as laborer in the field of the person to whom the sugarcane and flowers belonged.
With the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi as laborer the farmer became very prosperous. Twelve years passed and it was time for Goddess Lakshmi to return.
But the farmer was not ready to relieve a good laborer. So he offered Goddess Lakshmi more wages. But Goddess Lakshmi still wanted to leave; the farmer offered more things and this denial and offers continued.
Finally, Goddess Lakshmi asked the farmer and his family to take a pilgrimage to Ganga River and they will decide on her future stay there on his return. Goddess Lakshmi also gave four small shells to the farmer to offer to Goddess Ganga. When the farmer was offering the shells to River Ganga, four hands came up and accepted the offering. Goddess Ganga then revealed that the woman at the farmer’s home is Goddess Lakshmi.
The farmer returned home happily realizing that it was Goddess Lakshmi who was staying in his house. He requested her not to leave. Goddess Lakshmi said that she cannot live on earth permanently and has to return. But she said that she will visit him on all Dhanteras day. She asked the farmer to keep the house clean and light and earthern lamp.The farmer said as directed by Goddess Lakshmi and he became very prosperous and people who came to know about the incident started performing the same ritual on Dhanteras day