Diwali is not just one day festival, rather celebration starts with Dhanteras, two days prior the festival of light and ends with Bhai Dooj two days later. The first day, Dhanteras is considered as the best time to shop.
The festival is celebrated on the 13th day of Krishna Paksha, the dark fortnight of the month of Ashvin. The word Dhanteras is derived from the word ‘Dhan’ which means wealth and thus, people make sure to buy precious metal on this day. Also known as Dhanwantari Triodasi, Dhanvantri Jayanti Puja, Yamadeep and Dhantrayodashi, Dhanteras starts after the sunset and end after 1 hours and 43 minutes. Various stories are associated with this day and here are some of them.
Saving The Prince
The legend behind celebrating the Dhanteras is associated with the story of the 16-year-old son of King Hima. He was predicted to die on the fourth night of his marriage. Terrified bride decided to do something about it and on the expected night, she put all her jewellery in a heap near her husband’s bedroom door and lit loads of lamps. Then, she started narrating some interesting stories and continued for the entire night. Legends say that the Lord of Death, Yama came in the form of snake to bite and kill the prince, but got overwhelmed by the heap of gold and got engrossed in the stories, the young bride was singing. In the morning, he realised that he missed the predicted time to kill the prince. And this way, the bride saved her husband’s life and since then people lit lamps for the whole night in order to prevent Lord Yama from coming and taking away a family member.
Return Of Lakshmi
Diwali is also known as the day of Lakshmi. The story around the day says that when once Goddess Lakshmi wanted to accompany Lord Vishnu to the earth during his visit. Lord Vishnu agreed to take her with him with a condition that she will not look in the southern direction and fall for earthly temptations. However, 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. Here she fell for earthly temptations and further south she saw sugarcane fields and started enjoying the sugarcane juice.
And when Lord Vishnu found out that Goddess Lakshmi had violated the conditions and he punished her to spend 12 years as labourer in the field of the person to whom the sugarcane and flowers belonged. With the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi as labourer the farmer became very prosperous, but after 12 years when it was time for her to return, she 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. She gave four shells to the farmer to offer to Goddess Ganga and when farmer offered 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. He returned home
The farmer returned home happily realising that Goddess Lakshmi was staying in his house. He requested her not to leave but goddess said that she cannot live on earth permanently and has to return. But she agreed to visit him every year on Dhanteras day. Also, she asked the farmer to keep the house clean and light. The farmer said as directed by Goddess Lakshmi and since then the same ritual is performed on Dhanteras day.
Yamadeep is another name for Dhanteras, which tells the story of Dhanwantari, the physician of the Gods. It is believed Dhanwantari came out of the ocean with a jar of amrita or nectar. This happened on the first day of Diwali, therefore it is called dhanteras or dhantrayodashi. On this day, people clean and decorate their houses and business places. They make beautiful rangolis, torans made of mango leaves and orange flowers. Legends say it is considered lucky to buy gold or silver along with some utensils on this day as it is a sign of good luck and prosperity.