Diwali festival is a 5-day long celebration and festival of light. Hindu from India and other parts of the world participate in the celebration of Diwali. This festival of Diwali is considered to be the grandest and most popular Hindu festival for other religious community and personalities also celebrate it with complete fervor and passion. Each day of Diwali celebration has meaning and significance. Let’s find out.
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First Day of Diwali – Dhanteras
The first day of the Diwali festival is the Dhanteras. It is also called as Dhantrayodashi and Dhanvantari Trayodashi. The dhan from the name Dhanteras is the Indian word for wealth, while teras means thirteenth. The thirteenth indicates the day of Trayodashi, which means the thirteenth of the month on which the Dhanteras is observed. Dhanvantari Trayodashi is commemorated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha, according to the Hindu calendar.
On this day, people light “Yama-diya” in recognition of the god of death, Lord Yamaraj. They offer prayers in return for prosperity, health and protection. To signify good luck on this day, the people buy new utensils, silver and gold coins or of other precious metals. The business group of Western India consider this day very important. Some places have different traditions that they perform during the Dhanteras. People in Maharashta pound dry coriander seeds with jaggery which is the offered as Najvedya. In other areas, worship their cattle for the reason that these farm animals bring income and serve as their livelihood.
Legends and Myths Behind Dhanteras
- Lord Dhanvantari
It was said that Lord Dhanvantari is the physician to the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu. He came out of the ocean on the day of Dhanteras that the gods and demons caused the churning of the ocean. He brought with him the Ayurvedic for the well-being and health of the humankind. Due to this, Dhanteras is celebrated to honor him.
- King Hima’s Son
A prophecy was told that King Hima’s son would die on the fourth day of his married life. It was predicted that the cause of death is from snakebite. To save him, on the fourth day, the son’s wife collected all of the jewelry and precious metals and lit lamps around the palace. She started telling stories and singing songs to keep her husband awake. By midnight, the god of death, Lord Yama, disguised as a snake entered the palace. However, due to the bright light which had been lit by the son’s wife, the snake was blinded and could not enter the bedchamber.
Lord Yama waited for a chance to strike in the heap of jewelry and precious metals outside the room. But, due to the wife keeping her husband awake through stories and songs, Lord Yama could not find any chance to take the husband and left the place when the morning came. Thus, it has been a tradition to light diyas through the night in honor of Lord Yama. Hence, this day also came to be called as “Yamadeepdan”.