Diwali celebrations officially begin with Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi. Hindus celebrate the first day of Diwali by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Kubera, the god of wealth. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and good fortune. Her name is synonymous with all that is good and desirable. While Kubera does not enjoy the same status as Lakshmi, he is widely acknowledged as the Lord of Wealth in Hindu scriptures. Hindus believe that they will gain both material and spiritual wealth if they worship both Lakshmi and Kubera on Dhanteras.
The word Dhanteras is made up of two words – dhan and teras. Dhan means wealth and tera means 13. Essentially, Dhanteras is the 13th day of the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha) in the month of Karthika (October / November). In 2017, Dhanteras fall on October 17.
Significance of Dhanteras
Most Hindu households make it a point to buy gold, silver, precious stones or new utensils on this day. Anything that is bought on this day is considered auspicious and people believe that they will be able to acquire more of that wealth by the grace of the Goddess. As a result, Dhanteras happen to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Legends of Dhanteras
There are several legends about the origin and celebration of Dhanteras. According to one popular legend, when the devas and asuras (gods and demons) churned the ocean of milk (palazhi) with the objective of obtaining Amritha (nectar), many different kinds of invaluable objects came out. On the 13th day, Lord Dhanvantari who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the physician of gods emerged from the ocean carrying in his hands a jar containing the elixir of life. This day is now widely celebrated as Dhanteras.
According to another legend, King Hima had a son. According to his horoscope, the 16 year old prince would die on the 4th day of his marriage due to snake-bite. His bride was aware of this and she did not let her husband sleep on the fourth night after their marriage. She made a heap of precious stones, ornaments, gold and silver coins at the entrance of their chamber and lit numerous lamps all over the place. She then spent the entire night singing songs and telling stories to prevent her husband from falling asleep.
Yama, the Lord of Death and Justice arrived on the fourth night in disguise of a snake to claim the life of the prince. However, he was bedazzled by the heap of precious stones and gold at the entrance. Blinded by the dazzle he could not find the prince. Instead he sat there on the heap of gold listening to the interesting stories and lovely songs sung by the princess. The next morning he left for his kingdom without hurting the prince. Because of this reason, Dhanteras is also known as Yamadeepdan. Devotees keep the lamps burning throughout the night in reverence to Lord Yama.
Dhanteras 2017 Pooja timings:
Dhanteras Puja Timing: 19:32 pm to 20:18 pm
Pradosh Kaal: 17:49 pm to 20:18 pm
Vrishabha Kaal: 19:32 pm to 21:33 pm
Trayodashi Tithi: Starts at 00:26 am on October 17, 2017 and ends at 00:08 am on October 18, 2017.
Lakshmi pooja should be performed during Pradosh Kaal which starts after sunset.