Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival. Dhanteras Festival, also known as “Dhantrayodashi” or “Dhanwantari Triodasi”, falls on the auspicious thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Ashwin (October/November).
In the word Dhanteras, “Dhan” stands for wealth. On Dhanteras, the “Owl” form of the Goddess Laxmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being. Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to customary purchases of precious metals on this day.
A very interesting story about Dhanteras Festival says that once the sixteen year old son of King Hima was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage as per his horoscope. On that particular fourth day of his marriage 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 innumerable lamps all over the place. And she went on telling stories and singing songs.
When Yama, the god of Death arrived there in the guise of a Serpent his eyes 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 quietly went away. Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of “Yamadeepdaan” and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yam, the god of Death.
According to another popular legend, when the gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrit or nectar, Dhanavantri (the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras.
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