Diwali is fast approaching and India is gearing up for five days of celebrations, which is traditionally kickstarted by Dhanteras. In the month of Karthik, on the 13th day of Krishna Paksha (the dark lunar fortnight), Dhanteras is celebrated to worship Lord Dhanvantri, the Hindu god of medicine. People pray to him for good health and longevity on this occasion. But more than anyone, it is the jewellers who look forward to the occasion, since it’s de rigueur to buy gold and silver on the day. Dhanteras is derived from two words Dhan meaning wealth in Sanskrit and Teras meaning 13, a reference to the 13th day.
Story of Dhanteras
The churning of the milk ocean (Kshirsagar Manthan) is an important chapter in Hindu mythology. The Asuras and Devas decided to churn the cosmic ocean of milk (Kshirsagar) to retrieve Amrita, the nectar of immortality. The god of snakes, Vasuki was used as a rope to rotate Mount Mandara, which served as a churning rod. Diwali 2018 Date Calendar for India: When Is Dhanteras, Lakshmi Puja, Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj? Get Complete Deepavali Holiday Dates.
The churning produced many wondrous things. Lord Dhanvantri emerged out of the ocean, carrying a jar of Amrita along with Goddess Lakshmi. That’s why, worshipping Dhanvantri and Lakshmi on Diwali guarantees health, longevity and prosperity.
There’s an ancient legend about King Hima’s16-year-old son, who was destined to die of a snake-bite four days after his marriage. Worried about his fate, his new bride didn’t allow to fall asleep, knowing that he may get bitten by the snake.
She placed all the jewels and money at the entrance of their room and lit lamps. To keep him from falling asleep, she narrated stories and sang songs. On the fourth day, on the day of his destined death, Lord Yama arrived at the doorsteps in the guise of a snake. But the glow of the lamps and the ornaments blinded him. He, instead, listened to the stories the bride and slowly slithered away the next day. The king’s son was thus saved from the curse. Dhanteras was then observed as a memory of the young woman’s quick thinking.
This year, Dhanteras, also known as Dhanavantri Trayadashi will be celebrated on November 5.