In India we celebrate lots of festivals throughout the year. But these months of October-November-December are the most special for every religion, as we celebrate our greatest festivals like Dusshera, Durga Puja, Eid, Karva Chauth, Dhanteras, Diwali, Muharram, Chhath Puja, Guru Nanak Jayanti and Christmas.
Everybody, be it young or old, poor or rich, enjoys this festive season very much in their own ways. But how many of us know their significance or the tradition behind these festivals? Not many…In my earlier post I wrote about Durga Puja. Here I am writing about the story behind Dhanteras.
The word Dhan means wealth and Teras means 13th day as per Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu Calendar month of Ashwin. On Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being. Traditionally, everybody buys new utensils and jewellery on this day as per their financial capabilities and beliefs but even an inexpensive utensil purchased on this day is considered auspicious.
Here goes the story behind this buying of utensils and gold:
There was once a newly-wed prince who was doomed to die on the fourth day of his marriage by a snake-bite, according to his horoscope. But when Yamaraj (the god of death) reached the prince’s house on that day, disguised as a snake, he was met with a dazzling heap of metal artefacts and brightly burning lamps everywhere. The Prince’s smart wife laid out all her ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a heap at the entrance of the sleeping chamber and lit lamps all over the place. Besides, she had also made her husband bathe in the evening, sat him down, sung songs and told him stories all night, so he wouldn’t go to sleep. Blinded by the sparkle of the jewellery and utensils,and the lamps, Yamaraj couldn’t cross the threshold. He just sat down on the heap of utensils, heard the pleasant songs and stories and went away in the morning. So the newlywed wife, by placing gold at the entrance of the house, saved her husband’s life. And the day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras.
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 and incarnation of Lord Vishnu), 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.
In both the stories, Dhanteras symbolises the victory of life over death!