Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Significance of Dhanteras

Significance of Dhanteras

The festival of Dhanteras is also known as Dhantrayodashi and Dhanvantari Trayodashi (Dhanwantari Trayodashi). This festival marks the beginning of the Diwali celebrations and that is why, it is considered the first day of five days long festivities of Diwali. The term 'Dhanteras' consists of two factors 'dhan', which means wealth and 'teras', which means thirteenth. Here thirteenth is meant to indicate the day 'Trayodashi', i.e., the thirteenth day of the month on which Dhanteras falls. Dhanvantari Trayodashi (Dhanwantari Trayodashi) is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha, of the Hindu month of Kartik, which is two days before Diwali.

Dhanteras Celebrations 

People worship Lord Yamaraj, the God of death, on this day and light a 'Yama-Diya' in the night to offer prayers to him to bless them with prosperity, well being and protection. They also purchase a new utensil, silver or gold coin or some other precious metal as a sign of good luck on the day of Dhanteras. The day of Dhanteras has great importance for the mercantile community of Western India. In Maharashtra, there is a peculiar custom to lightly pound dry coriander seeds with jaggery and offer as Naivedya. In the rural areas the cultivators worship their cattle because they form the main source of their income and livelihood. 

Dhanteras Legends

There are several popular legendary stories to explain the foundation of this celebration. One famous story is about Lord Dhanvantari and his service to mankind. Lord Dhanvantari, who is considered to be the physician of the Gods and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, came out of the ocean that was churned by the Gods and the demons on the day of Dhanteras. Lord Dhanvantari appeared with Ayurvedic for the welfare of the mankind. It was because of this reason that the Dhanteras was celebrated in his honor. 

Another interesting story famous about Dhanteras is related to the son of King Hima and his intelligent wife. It was predicted about King Hima's sixteen year old son would die on the fourth day of his marriage and the reason behind his death would be snakebite. When his wife came to know about such a prediction she decided not to let her husband die and for this she made a plan. On the fourth day of their marriage, she collected all the jewelry and wealth at the entrance of her husband's chamber and lighted lamps all around the place and started telling stories and singing songs one after another in order to not let her husband sleep. 

In the midnight Lord Yama, the God of death arrived there in the guise of a snake. The bright lights of the lamps lit by the wife of the king's son blinded his eyes and he could not enter their chamber. Therefore, Lord Yama found a comfortable place to stay on top of the heap of the jewelry and wealth and kept sitting there for the whole night waiting to get a chance to bite the king's son, but as the wife of the king's son kept telling stories and singing songs for the whole night therefore he could not get any chance and in the morning he left the place quietly. Thus, the wife saved her husband's life from the cruel clutches of death. Since then the day of dhanteras is also known as the day of 'Yamadeepdaan' and it has become a tradition to light a diya on dhanteras and to keep it burning throughout the night in reverential adoration of Lord Yama, the God of death.

Laxmi, Ganesh and Kuber Puja on Dhanteras- Its Importance 

In deeper terms, on this day Lord Vishnu's un-manifest energy flows through Shri Laxami Devi's Surya Nadi (the right channel of the Kundalini) and the channel is activated. Thus the rays generated during the day are full of the 'Tej tatva' or the fire element. These 'Tej' rays spread all over the Universe and the whole Universe is illuminated by shiny golden particles. 

Goddess Laxami's Chaitanya present in these golden particles provides opulence, prosperity and creates an environment conducive for spiritual practice. Hence on this day Goddess Laxmi is worshipped with utmost devotion. Because of the ritualistic worship with spiritual emotion, the Lord and controller of wealth - Kuber enters the earth's environment and in this process Lord Ganesha removes the hindrances in the way. 

Thus, by worshiping the coupled Divine energy of Goddess Laxami- the creator of wealth, Lord Kuber- the distributor of wealth and Lord Ganesha – the remover of obstacles in the way, devotees are blessed with ability to attract wealth and thus fulfilling their desires.

Lord Dhanvantri and Godess Laxami appearance from Sumundramanthan

Dhanteras is also an occasion to worship an incarnation of Vishnu – Lord Dhanwantari, the deity of health and the spirit of knowledge, as good health is first and foremost for everybody. 

As per legend, Once Lord Indra was cursed by sage Durvasa that “The pride of wealth has entered his head and let Lakshmi leave him." On account of Durvasa's curse, Lakshmi left Indra and went away. As Lakshmi- the goddess of power, bravery, enthusiasm and radiance left, Devendra's life became miserable. The demons that were waiting for such an opportunity, invaded heaven defeated Indra. 

A number of years passed. Indra went along with other gods to Brahma, who went to Vishnu to find out a way. Lord Vishnu advised the devtas to churn the sea of milk. As on churning the ocean among various valuable things, Amrit will also appear and by drinking the same, devetas can become immortal. 

Further, when the sea is churned, Lakshmi, who has disappeared will appear again and her grace will be bestowed on devtas

After initial difficulties Gods and Demons got ready to churn the ocean. For churning the same, the Mandara Mountain became the churning rod and Vasuki, the king of the serpents, became a rope. Lord Vishnu took the form of a tortoise and hoisted Mandara Mountain on his back and the churning started. 

During churning in the midst of the waves of the sea of milk, a goddess with heavenly looks came into view. She was standing on a fully blossomed lotus. Wearing a lotus garland in the neck, she was holding a lotus in her hand. She was attractive and was radiantly smiling, she was Lakshmi. 

The sages began reciting hymns in praise of her. As the elephants sprinkled holy water on her, she acquired the name of Gajalakshmi and as she was born in the sea of milk, she was called Samudratanya. Lakshmi put the garland around the neck of Vishnu. Then she looked at Indra kindly, by this act Indra acquired an extraordinary radiance and blessings of Goddess Laxami. 

The gods and demons continued to churn the ocean for Amrit or nectar, Finally Dhanavantri emerged carrying a jar of the nectar. Both the gods and demons wanted the Amrit, but finally Vishnu managed to give the immortal nectar to the gods and the asuras were defeated. Thus, the churning of the ocean resulted in the immortality of the Devtas and was the reason for Lakshmi's emergence. 

Thus, on this day by worshipping the Tulsi and the Akashdeep, we symbolically seek the favour of Nature, which is the ultimate source of health and wealth. In addition to this "Laxmi-Puja" is performed in the evenings when tiny diya of clay are lit to drive away the shadows of evil spirits.


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