The Essence Of Dhanteras – Prelude to Deepawali

South Asians have geared up with pomp and show and lots of light for one of their biggest festivals- Deepawali, the festival of lights, and the festival that signifies of victory of good over evil. As a prelude to this important festival, we have Dhanteras. Dhanteras, also known as ‘Dhanatrayodash falls on the thirteen lunar days of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of the calendar, every year. The day usually falls 1-2 days before Diwali. This year, the festival will be celebrated on the 25th of October, which is Friday and one day before the festival of lights.

Also called as festival of wealth, the literal meaning of the festival is “Dhan” meaning wealth and “teras” meaning thirteen days, this festival pays tribute to Goddess Laxmi, Kuber, Yama and Lord Dhanvantari, who is the physician of the Gods.

The origin of Mythology

One such story states, During the Samundra Manthan, churning of the Ocean, during the thirteenth day Goddess Laxmi emerged along with Kuber, and choose to marry Vishnu, hence the day is celebrated to honor her and seek her blessings. Another legend tells us that, Lord Dhanvantari, an avatar of Lord Vishnu emerged from Samudra Manthan with a pot of elixir which was given to the gods and asuras lost. As an ode to Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda in the Hindu script, the day is celebrated as Dhanteras.

Another mythology links the festival with Yama. According to this legend, it is believed that the horoscope of a king Hima’s son predicted that he would die on the fourth day of marriage after getting bitten by a snake. On the 4th day of his marriage, his wife made sure her husband didn’t sleep, as she narrated stories to keep him awake. She laid out all the ornaments and coins at the entrance in a heap to lure the snake away. Supposedly when the God of Death came in disguise of a snake, he was blinded by all the dazzling jewelry and coins.

This way the serpent couldn’t enter the prince’s chamber and soon got hooked to the wife’s stories and songs and apparently spared the life of the Prince. People also worship Lord Yamaraja, the God of Death in the night and offer prayers to seek blessings as Yamadeepa.

What is done on this day?

In the evening, the family members gather and start the prayer. They worship Lord Ganesha and before that, give him a bath and anoint him with sandal paste. A red cloth is offered to the Lord and then fresh flowers are showered on the idol of Lord Ganesha. Devotees chant the mantra and take his blessings before starting the rituals of Dhanteras.
We chant the following mantra:

वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ ।
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा ॥

Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Suurya-Kotti Samaprabha |
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa ||

After that, Lord Dhanwantari, founder of Ayurveda is worshipped. People pray for good health and wellbeing of their families. After bathing and anointing the idol of Lord Dhanwantari with vermillion, nine varieties of grains are offered to the Lord. People chant the following mantra:

Om Namo Bhagavate Maha Sudharshana Vasudevaya Dhanvantaraye; Amrutha Kalasa Hasthaaya Sarva Bhaya Vinasaya Sarva amaya Nivaranaya Thri Lokya Pathaye Thri Lokya Nidhaye Sri Maha Vishnu Swarupa Sri Dhanvantri Swarupa Sri Sri Sri Aoushata Chakra Narayana Swaha”

Lord Kubera is offered flowers, incense, fruits and sweets, and Diya. People chant the following Kubera mantra:

Om Yakshyaya Kuberaya Vaishravanaaya Dhanadhanyadi Padayeh
Dhana-Dhanya Samreeddhing Me Dehi Dapaya Swaha

How to Worship Laxmi?

According to Drikpanchang, Dhanteras puja should be done during the Pradosh kaal which starts after sunset. The best time to start the puja on Dhanteras during pradosh kaal is during sthir lagna. Sthir means fixed. During this auspicious period, it is said that goddess Lakshmi stays inside the home; hence it is the best time for Dhanteras Pujan. Vrishabha Lagna is considered as sthir and mostly overlaps with pradosh kaal during Diwali festivity.
During the Pradosh Kaal, which is the time after sunset and lasts for about two and a half hours, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on Dhanteras.

Before starting the rituals, a piece of new cloth is spread with a handful of grains in the middle of the cloth. The cloth should be spread on a raised platform. A Kalash half-filled with water (mixed with Gangajal), betel nut, a flower, a coin, and some rice grains is also kept together.

People also keep mango leaves in the Kalash. According to the rituals, a lotus is drawn with haldi (turmeric) over the grains and the idol of Goddess Lakshmi is kept over the grains. The idol of Lord Ganesha is also kept and businessmen keep their important business books near the idol of Goddess Laksmi. Devotees light a lamp, offer flowers, haldi, vermillion to the Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha and to the kalash.

The chant:

Om Shreem Hreem Shreem Kamale Kamalalaye Praseed Praseed Om Shreem Hreem Shreem Mahalakshmaye Namaha

After this, take a plate and bathe the idol of Lakshmi with panchamrit (mixture of milk, curd, ghee, butter and honey). This is followed by offering the Goddess sandal paste, saffron paste, ittar (perfume), vermillion, haldi and abeer.

Dhanteras 2019 Puja Time:
Dhanteras Puja on Friday, October 25, 2019
Dhanteras Puja Muhurat – 07:08 PM to 08:15 PM
Duration – 01 Hour 07 Min

Purchases on Dhanteras

On this day, Hindus consider it as an extremely auspicious day to make new purchases, especially gold or silver articles and new utensils. It is believed that new “Dhan” (wealth) or some form of precious metal is a sign of good luck. In modern times, Dhanteras has come to be known as the most auspicious occasion for buying gold, silver and other metals especially kitchenware. The day also sees heavy purchases of appliances and automobiles.

The spiritual aspect of Dhanteras.

.The tradition is to put all the wealth you have earned in front of you and feel the abundance. When you feel lack, the lack grows but when you put your attention on abundance, then abundance grows. In the Arthashastra, Chanakya says, ‘Dharmasya Moolam Arthah’ which means, ‘prosperity is the root of righteousness’.- Sri Sri Ravishankhar.

This day is a celebration aimed at increasing wealth and prosperity. Dhanteras engages themes of cleansing, renewal, and the securing of auspiciousness in the form of Lakshmi.