Dhanteras

Festivals of India, November 10th, 2023
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illustration by Manish

Dhanteras, also known as Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanvantari Trayodashi, is a Hindu festival celebrated in India and Nepal. It usually falls on the thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of the moon) in the month of Kartik according to the Hindu calendar, which typically falls in October or November of the Gregorian calendar. Dhanteras marks the first day of the five-day Diwali festival.

The word “Dhanteras” is derived from the combination of two words: “Dhan,” which means wealth, and “Teras,” which refers to the thirteenth day. This day is considered highly auspicious for buying and gifting gold, silver, and other precious items, as it is believed that purchasing such items on Dhanteras brings prosperity and good luck.

One of the key rituals of Dhanteras is the worship of Lord Dhanvantari, who is considered the god of Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine). People pray to Lord Dhanvantari for good health and well-being. The puja (ritual worship) is usually performed in the evening, and a variety of offerings such as flowers, incense, lamps, and sweets are made to the deity.

Here’s a general outline of the Dhanteras puja:

  • Cleaning and Decorating: Homes are cleaned and decorated with rangoli (decorative art using colored powders), lights, and lamps to welcome wealth and prosperity.
  • Lakshmi Kubera Puja: Many people also perform Lakshmi Kubera Puja on Dhanteras to seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) and Lord Kubera (the treasurer of wealth).
  • Dhanvantari Puja: A special puja is performed for Lord Dhanvantari, where devotees seek his blessings for good health and well-being. Ayurvedic items and medicines may also be placed on the puja altar.
  • Lighting of Lamps: Lighting oil lamps or diyas is an essential part of Dhanteras. It is believed that the light of these lamps wards off darkness and evil forces.
  • Offerings: Devotees offer prayers, fruits, sweets, and other items to the deities as part of the puja.
  • Buying Precious Metals: Many people consider it auspicious to buy gold, silver, or other precious items on Dhanteras as a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

Dhanteras sets the tone for the Diwali celebrations, and it is a time when families come together to celebrate and share the joy of prosperity. It is also an occasion to express gratitude for the blessings of wealth and well-being in one’s life.

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