Dhanteras, also known as Dhanatrayodashi is an Indian religious festival celebrated by the Hindus. Dhanteras is celebrated on the first of the five days of Diwali. The term dhan refers to wealth and tera means thirtheen, thus, dhanteras means the thirteenth lunar day during the Kartika month of Hindu calendar, on Krishna Paksha. On this auspicious day the households perform a diverse range of rituals aimed at seeking blessing in the form of wellbeing and prosperity. The onset of dhanteras sets up the mood for Diwali in India.
The celebration of dhanteras sets the tone of festivities. Not only the houses and streets get lit with colourful lamps and candles but also, the entire community furnish their households with new decors and electrical appliances. The entire community hails lord Dhanvantari seeking his blessings. It has often been said that the day is auspicious to make new business arrangements and deals.
What to buy?
Culturally and religiously speaking, Hindus in India and all over the world consider the day to be sanctified to initiate new business. Buying new things on this day brings health, wealth and luck. The day is said to be best suited for business initiatives and constructions. The beliefs of luck, wellbeing and prosperity has culminated into a shopping spree on this day. Streets and market places thrive on this day as people hop around with the belief that it would usher them with luck. Silver and bronze utensils is a favourite item to buy. People indulge in buying electronic gadgets such as laptops, mobile phones, refrigerators, washing machines. Most of the stores and online shopping applications come up with special deals and sales during this festive season. Along with jewellery, gold and silver coins, swastika symbols are popular preferences. The silver or gold coin with engravings of Lakshmi, Ganesh and Kuber is the hot favourite. Households are decorated with silver idols of Ganesh and goddess Lakshmi. Buying broomsticks on this day is said to be a lucky charm as it sweeps out poverty and brings fortune. Businessmen on this day buys new stationary products and starts the new accounting year with the blessings of Ganesh and Lakshmi.
Dhanteras is celebrated two days before Diwali. The goddess of wealth is invited to the houses and worshipped. Footprints of the goddess is drawn on the entrance of the household to guide the deity to the place of worship. People involved in business make elaborate arrangements for Lakshmi and Kuber pujas. According to the Hindu traditions Lakshmi puja is performed during Pradosh Kaal, that is two hours after sunset on the day of dhanteras. Performing pujas on this day bestows the household with good luck and propinquity. In certain parts of the country, people on this day worship cows. Feeding cows with fodder and jaggery is a ritual as, in Hinduism, cow is a sacred animal and is referred to as gau mata (mother cow). Beautiful lamps and candles are lit in the evening to seek the blessing of Yama (God of death). The day is also associated with good health. Dhanvantari is also the god of Ayurveda. According to the legends Lord Dhanvantari emerged out of Samudramantha. On one had he carried a kalash full of amrit (elixir) and on the other, he had the book of Ayurveda. People on this day pray to seek the blessings of the god to safeguard humankind from all ailments. 2016 onwards the Government of India has declared Dhanteras as the National Ayurveda Day.
Fashion and Home Decor
Dhanteras sets the mood of festive extravaganza; fashion too holds a prominent place. In India every religious festival calls for shopping new clothes and dhanteras is no exception. New clothes for both men and women are mandatory on this pious day. It is the ethnic wear that steals the show. Women drape themselves in beautiful sarees while, men dress up in kurta-pajama. A fusion of the traditional ethnic clothing with a tinge of western glamour adds a special dazzle. Kanjiveram silk sarees or embroidered lehengas paired with jhumkas (big earrings), bangles and necklaces sum the look for the day. Men dazzle in silk or khadi (handloom) kurtas paired pajamas. To keep in a go-between formal and casual man often match their kurtas with jeans.
People also adorn their households with diyas (earthen lamps), lamps and candles. They draw rangoli, intricate pattern on the floor in the entrance of the house, using vibrant colours to welcome the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Houses are festooned with flowers and swastika.