The First day of Deepawali festival called Dhanteras or
Dhan Trayodashi or Dhanwantari Triodashi, falls on the
thirteenth lunar day after full moon in the Hindu month of
Kartik (October/November). The word "Dhan" means wealth. As
such this day of the five-day Diwali festival has a great
importance for the rich mercantile community of Western
Believing this day to be
auspicious women purchase some gold or silver or
at least one or two new utensils. "Lakshmi-Puja" is
performed in the evenings when tiny diyas of
clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of
Houses and Business premises
are renovated and decorated. Entrances are made
colourful with lovely traditional motifs of
Rangoli designs to welcome the Goddess of wealth
and prosperity. To indicate her long-awaited
arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice
flour and vermilion powder all over the houses.
Lamps are kept burning all through the nights.
In villages cattle are adorned and
worshipped by farmers as they form the main source of their
income. In south cows are offered special veneration as they
are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and
therefore they are adorned and worshipped on this day.
A story about this day is of the sixteen
year old son of King Hima. As per his horoscope he was
doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his
marriage. On that particular fourth day of his marriage his
young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the
ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at
the entrance of her husband's boudoir and lighted
innumerable lamps all over the place. And she went on
telling stories and singing songs. When Yam, the god of
Death arrived there in the guise of a Serpent his eyes got
blinded by that dazzle of those brilliant lights and he
could not enter the Prince's chamber. So he climbed on top
of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole
night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he
quietly went away.
Thus the young wife saved her husband from
the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came
to be known as the day of "YAMADEEPDAAN" and lamps are kept
burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to
Yam, the god of Death.
According to another popular legend, when the gods and
demons churned the ocean for Amrit or nectar, Dhanavantri
(the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu)
emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras.