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The story of Dhanteras

Dhanteras is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin, two days before Diwali.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2006 18:26 IST

Dhanteras is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin, two days before Diwali. The legend behind Dhanteras is centred on the 16-year-old son of King Hima. As per his horoscope he was fated to breathe his last on the fourth day of his marriage, owing to snakebite. On the appointed day his wife illuminated the house with numerous lamps and placed a heap of gold and silver coins and ornaments in front of their bedroom. All through the night she sang songs and told stories.

The lights of the lamps and the dazzle of the coins and ornaments blinded the god of death, Yama, who had come as a serpent. He spent the entire night listening to the sweet songs before leaving peacefully next morning. This is why Dhanteras is also called Yamadeepdaan (Gifting of Lamps to the God of Death).

Dhanteras is considered an auspicious occasion for buying gold or silver articles and new utensils for home.

Entrances are made colourful with rangoli designs to welcome the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. To indicate her long-awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour. We perform Lakshmi Puja the at evening after lighting tiny clay diyas to symbolically drive away bad luck all year long. We sing bhajans in praise of Devi Lakshmi and offer Naivedya of traditional sweets in thanksgiving and happiness to her benign grace. Keeping the lamp lit through the night on Dhanteras is considered auspicious and it is believed that even the God of Death returns to his home without laying a finger on his victim. The light of the lamps is believed to bring in prosperity, health and long life.

Purchasing new things on this day is symbolic of renewing hope and faith in life. More, it is relevant to illuminate the light of the heart and dissolve selfishness by giving to the poor. Better than gold and silver, let us renew our brotherhood with our fellow citizens by inviting them to share our joy. This will be celebrating Dhanteras in its true sense.