Five-days-long Diwali celebration begins with Dhanteras that marks the first day of this festival. In other words Dhanteras is also called Dhanwantari Triodasi or Dhantrayodashi, which falls on the felicitous thirteenth lunar day of Karik month’s Krishna Paksha (generally October/November). On this day people worship Goddess Laxmi for prosperity and wellbeing. Henceforth, this day holds greater significance in corporate community in India.
A very old yet interesting fable ascribes the event as follows- once 16 year old son of the King Hima was bitten by a snake on the very fourth-day of his marriage according to his horoscope. When the fourth day of his marriage arrived, his wife didn’t let him fall asleep. She laid every piece of jewelry and a heap of gold as well as silver coins at the doorway and put on innumerable lamps all around the place. And, she continued telling stores & singling songs.
When Yama (the God of Death as per Hindu Mythology) arrived there taking the form of the snake, his eyes got blinded with the dazzling lights of lamps and heap of coins. He couldn’t invade the prince by entering his chamber. Therefore, he mounted on the heap of the coins & jewelries and sat over there the whole night listening to the songs. In the dawn he went away without making a noise. Hence, the young wife saved her husband from grip of death. Since then, this day became famous as the day of “Yamadeepdaan” and people keep lamps burning the whole night so as to pay reverence to the God of Death- Yama.
According to another famous fable, when suras and asuras (Gods and Demons) churned the ocean for nectar or the Amrit, dhanavantri (the physician of the Gods & the avatar of Vishnu) emerged out of the ocean carrying a jar of elixir right on the day of Dhanteras.
To mark the fortuitous day, houses and offices are refurbished and beautified. With stunning traditional motifs and rangoli, entrances of homes and office premises are made colorful so as to welcome the Goddess of wealth and prosperity- Lakshmi. Even to signify her long-awaited arrival, tiny footprints are made with vermilion and rice flour and Dhanteras gifts are bought liker new utensils or silver-gold coins and jewelries. Lamps are kept illuminating all through the night to bring prosperity.
On this day it is believed that buying gold or silver articles bring prosperity and prove to be auspicious. Also people buy new utensils and stuffs. Buying new stuffs made of precious metals is said to be a sign of good luck. By evening people perform “Lakhsmi Puja” and light earthen lamps or diyas to ward off evil spirits.
The Dhanteras celebration is enjoyed with gusto and enthusiasm. In the evening with Lakshmi Puja people wish for prosperity and wellbeing. Lamps are lighted to do away with evil spirits. Bhajans and devotional songs are sung by people to praise the powers of Goddess Lakshmi and Naivedya is offered to adulate her. In Maharashtra there is an odd custom in which people offer lightly pound dry coriander seeds with jaggery as naivedya to Goddess Lakshmi.
In villages people deck up their cattle and worship them as they are live-stocks for farmers. In southernmost part of India, cows are given special venetration as they are said to be the incarnation of Goddess Laxmi.