The festival that marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations, Dhanteras is the day on which precious metal is purchased to bring good luck & prosperity to the buyer. Buying metals on this auspicious day is a way of welcoming Goddess Lakshmi to your home, and to add to your wealth & prosperity. Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Kuber are worshipped on this day as they are the gods of wealth and fortune. This is the final day to finish all your Diwali shopping, while getting yourself some precious bit of metal – like a nice pair of earrings, gold coins, a dainty pendant, a statement finger ring or even a gold watch – at the same time. So, as you gear up for the big day that is knocking on your door, here are some lesser known legends about this festival!
Saved by the Gold
There’s a legend around King Hima’s sixteen-year old son, who was prophesied to die on snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that fateful day, the young prince’s wife decided to keep him awake all night by telling stories and singing songs to him. She also kept lots of gold & silver in a big heap at the entrance of the room and lit numerous lamps all around. When Yamraj came in the guise of a snake to fulfill the prophecy, he was blinded by the dazzle of the light on all the ornaments and went back without taking the prince’s life. That is why it’s auspicious to buy gold and silver on this special day.
The Return of Lakshmi
Lord Indra was once cursed by Sage Durvasa that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, power, success & prosperity, will leave his side for his egotistical attitude. Taking this chance, the demons indulged in a war with Indra and the gods, and defeated them. On Lord Vishnu’s advice, the gods allied with the demons and started churning the Sea of Milk for Amrit or the Nectar of Eternal Life. As a process of this churning, many celestial and magical things came out of the sea, along with the re-emergence of Goddess Lakshmi holding a lotus. The Gods prospered once again, in the presence of the Goddess, and soon achieved the Amrita too. That’s why Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the auspicious day of Dhanteras as the harbinger of wealth & prosperity.
Lakshmi the Labourer
Yet another legend says that, once, while on an earthly visit, Goddess Lakshmi had not paid heed to Lord Vishnu’s rules and fell for earthly temptations, mesmerized by pretty mustard flowers and juicy sugarcanes. As a punishment, Lord Vishnu asked her to work at the fields of the farmer whose flowers & sugarcane she enjoyed, for the next 12 years. The Goddess joined the farmer in the guise of a labourer and toiled in his fields as penance, during which time the farmer prospered and became wealthy. At the end of 12 years, when Goddess Lakshmi wanted to leave, the farmer refused to let his good labourer go and offered her more wages. Finally, when the farmer realized that she was none other than the Goddess of wealth herself, she told him that she’ll leave, but with a promise to return every year on the day of Dhanteras. She directed the farmer to keep the house clean and light earthen lamps on this day every year, so that she can easily be guided to his place on this day. This ritual made the farmer more prosperous, and other people started following him, thus giving rise to the celebrations of Dhanteras.
The Legend of Dhanwantari
After the gods were defeated by the demons in a mighty battle, they decided to do Samudra-Manthan or the churning of the Sea of Milk for the Amrit or eternal nectar. The nectar would make them immortal, hence invincible and they could defeat the demons once more. At the end of the rigorous process of Samudra-Manthan, carried out by the conjoined efforts of the gods and demons both, the physician of Gods –and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu – Dhanvantari emerged, carrying the elixir of life in an urn. That day is marked as Dhanteras, as the Amrit was nothing less than the ultimate wealth for the Gods. It is also said that Ayurveda, the science of healing using natural medicines, was discovered on this day.
Lamps for Yama Deva
Another interesting ritual is carried out on the festive day of Dhanteras or Dhantryodashi. Known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’, this ritual sees the ladies of the house lighting lamps for the God of Death ‘Yama’. Yamaraj is offered lighted ‘deeps’ or earthen lamps in order to cancel any premature or untimely death he might have on his mind. On this day, Yamadev is worshipped, and a lamp is lit at the entrance of the south-facing door, along with some coins placed in the lamp. This ritual is said to protect the family from untimely deaths or fatal incidents.