THE Hindu celebration of Dhanteras or Dhana Trayodashi marks the beginning of Indian Diwali and the Nepalese Tihar festival.
Gods and Goddesses are worshipped in the festivities, but what is it all about? Here’s the lowdown…
When is Dhanteras 2018?
Dhanteras is celebrated on the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin and it marks the first of the five days of Diwali celebrations.
In 2018 this falls on November 5.
What’s Dhanteras about?
On Dhanteras Hindus worship Dhanvantari, who is considered to be the teacher of all physicians.
Dhanteras has become associated with wealth and people buy gold or silver on the day.
However Dhanvantari traditionally has no association with wealth.
In modern times people use the day as an opportunity to buy silver and gold jewellery and homeware and the day also sees a lot of technology and car purchases.
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How to do Dhanteras puja at home?
On Dhanteras, Hindu business owners renovate and decorate their premises, with colourful entrances and lanterns.
This is designed to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi.
People also make small footprints from rice flour and arrange them all over their house as well as keeping lamps burning through the night.
In the evening the family gather together. Tiny diyas of clay are lit as they are thought to drive away evil spirits.
A number of mantras are chanted before the ritual is started.
In English one of these mantras translates to: “(I pray to Sri Ganesha) Who has a curved trunk, large body, and who has the brilliance of a million suns, O lord, please make all my works free of obstacles, always.”
Traditional sweets are also offered to the goddess Lakshmi.
In villages, people will also adorn their cattle and farmers will worship them as they are the main source of income for the household.
Why is Diwali celebrated by Hindus?
The five-day festival, which coincides with Hindu New Year, is seen to be one of the most significant in the Indian culture.
Many people celebrate the legend of Hindu God Rama and his wife Sita’s returning to their kingdom in northern India after being exiled following the defeat of demon king Ravanna.
The word itself means “series of lights” and during the festival houses and shops are decorated with candles and lights.
This is meant to represent light over darkness and the Hindu belief that good will always triumph over evil.
For many Indians, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and people will start the new business year at Diwali and some will say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead.