The festival of Dhanteras marks the first day of the grand celebrations for Diwali. It is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksh, which is the month of Kartik, according to the Hindu Lunar calendar. ‘Dhan’ means money/ wealth and ‘Teras’ signifies the thirteenth day.

Devotees worship Lord Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda. It is believed that Lord Dhanvantari helped humankind by imparting the wisdom of Ayurveda, to help rid it of the horrible diseases.

Ayurveda, has been around for centuries, and still is being used to cure diseases all across the world! And this is why, The Indian Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, first announced the festival of Dhanteras, as the “National Ayurveda Day” on 28th October, 2016.

Legend Associated with the festival

According to Hindu mythology, the festival of Dhanteras is associated with a very interesting story about the 16-year-old son of King Hima. It was predicted that the Prince, after four days of marriage, would get bitten by a snake and die. On the fateful night, his wife, surrounded the entrance of their chamber with gold and silver ornaments. She then stayed up all night, telling the prince stories and singing songs to prevent him from sleeping. The jewellery and the ornaments dazzled the God of Death, Yama, so much so that he decided to let the prince live.

The next day came to be celebrated as the festival of Dhanteras.

Celebrations for Dhanteras

The Goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi, is worshipped on Dhanteras. Families prepare for the arrival of the Goddess by getting up early and cleaning the house. This also begins the preparation for the coming festival of Diwali. After cleaning the house, people get ready and wear new clothes. It is a common ritual to purchase valuable items like ornaments, gemstones, and any household appliance, which is made of metal on the day of Dhanteras. It is believed to symbolise ‘bringing in Lakshmi’, meaning wealth and prosperity, into one’s home. This in turn will bring in good fortune for the family in the coming year. Many people wait for the entire year for this auspicious day, in order to purchase automobiles and expensive electronics.

In the evening, all members of the family, get together and pray to Lord Ganesha, along with Goddess Lakshmi.

A tradition in India, especially in the southern states, is the preparation of Marundhu. Prepared from a special traditional recipe, this is a type of Ayurvedic medicine. The Marundhu is offered to the deities before being consumed by family members. The belief is that it helps correct imbalances in the body.

The day after the celebrations of Dhanteras, is called Naraka Chaturdashi. In Sanskrit, Naraka means hell and Chaturdashi means fourteenth day. The day is also known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’, when the female members of the house light earthen lamps (diyas) which are then kept burning throughout the night. This ritual is done to glorify the God of Death, Yama.

Since this day is right before the festival of Diwali, it is also called Chhoti Diwali.