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Dhanteras
Dhanvantari, Hindu god of medicine
Official nameधनतेरस
Also calledDhanatrayodashi
Observed byHindus
Typea constituent part of Diwali
Significancecelebration of health
DateAshvin 28 (amanta tradition)
Karthika 13 (purnimanta tradition)
2023 date10 November
2024 date29 October
FrequencyAnnual
Related toDiwali
Explanatory note
Hindu festival dates

The Hindu calendar is lunisolar but most festival dates are specified using the lunar portion of the calendar. A lunar day is uniquely identified by three calendar elements: māsa (lunar month), pakṣa (lunar fortnight) and tithi (lunar day).

Furthermore, when specifying the masa, one of two traditions are applicable, viz. amānta / pūrṇimānta. If a festival falls in the waning phase of the moon, these two traditions identify the same lunar day as falling in two different (but successive) masa.

A lunar year is shorter than a solar year by about eleven days. As a result, most Hindu festivals occur on different days in successive years on the Gregorian calendar.

Dhanteras[1] (Hindi: धनतेरस), also known as Dhanatrayodashi (Sanskrit: धनत्रयोदशी), is the first day that marks the festival of Diwali in most of India.

It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day (Trayodashi) of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin (according to the amanta tradition) or Kartika (according to the purnimanta tradition). Dhanvantari, who is also worshipped on the occasion of Dhanteras, is considered the god of Ayurveda who imparted the wisdom of Ayurveda for the betterment of mankind and to help rid it of the suffering of disease.[2] The Indian ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, announced its decision to observe Dhanteras, as the "National Ayurveda Day", which was first observed on 28 October 2016.[3]

Celebrations

Dhanteras is the worship of Dhanvantari. Dhanvantari, according to Hindu traditions, emerged during Samudra Manthana, holding a pot full of amrita (a nectar bestowing immortality) in one hand and the sacred text about Ayurveda in the other hand. He is considered to be the physician of the devas.[4]

The festival is celebrated as Lakshmi Puja, which is performed in the evenings when lamps of clay (diyas) are lit. Bhajans or devotional songs are sung in praise of goddess Lakshmi and traditional sweets are offered to the goddess. A peculiar custom in Maharashtra exists where people lightly pound dried coriander seeds with jaggery and offer the mixture as naivedhya.

On Dhanteras, homes that have not yet been cleaned in preparation for Diwali are thoroughly cleansed and whitewashed. Dhanvantari, the god of health and Ayurveda, is worshiped in the evening. The main entrance is decorated with colorful lanterns, holiday lights, and traditional motifs of rangoli designs are made to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over the house to indicate her long-awaited arrival. On the night of Dhanteras, diyas (lamps) are ritually kept burning all through the night in honour of Lakshmi and Dhanvantari.[5]

Hindus consider this an extremely auspicious day for making new purchases, especially of gold or silver articles and new utensils. It is believed that new "Dhan" (wealth) or some item made of precious metal is a sign of good luck. In modern times, Dhanteras has come to be known as the most auspicious occasion for buying gold, silver, and other metals, especially kitchenware. The day also sees heavy purchases of appliances and automobiles.

On this night, the lights are set out in the sky lamps and as offerings at the base of a tulasi plant and in the form of diyas, which are placed in front of the doorways of homes. This light is an offering to Yama, the god of death, to avert untimely death during the time of the Diwali festival. This day is a celebration aimed at increasing wealth and prosperity. Dhanteras engages themes of cleansing, renewal, and the securing of auspiciousness as embodied by Lakshmi.[6]

In the villages, cattle are adorned and worshiped by farmers as their main source of income.

Within India

In South India (especially Tamil Nadu), Brahmin women make marundu, which translates as 'medicine' on the eve of Naraka Chaturdashi, which is Dhanatrayodashi. The marundu is offered during the prayer and eaten early on Naraka Chaturdashi before sunrise. Many families hand over the recipes of the medicine to their daughters and daughters-in-law. The marundu is consumed to eliminate the imbalance of tridoshas in the body.

Usually, Gujarati families will enjoy a meal of daal baath and malpua to ring in the new year.[7]

Significance

On the day of Dhanatrayodashi, the goddess Lakshmi is believed to have appeared from the ocean of milk during the churning of the ocean. Hence, the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Trayodashi.

According to a popular legend, when the devas and asuras performed the Samudra Manthana (churning of the ocean) for amrita (the divine nectar of immortality), Dhanvantari (the physician of the Gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras.[6]

Legends

A legend ascribes the occasion to the story of the 16-year-old son of King Hima. His horoscope predicted his death by snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular day, his newlywed wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid out all her ornaments and many gold and silver coins in a heap at the entrance of the bedchamber and lit many lamps. Then she narrated stories and sang songs to keep her husband from falling asleep; the next day, when Yama, the god of death, arrived at the prince's doorstep in the guise of a serpent, his eyes were dazzled and blinded by the brilliance of the lamps and the jewellery. Yama could not enter the prince's chamber, and so he climbed on top of the heap of gold coins and sat there the entire night listening to the stories and songs. In the morning, he silently went away. Thus, the young prince was saved from the clutches of death by the cleverness of his new bride, and the day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras.[8]

This practice came to be known as yamadipadana as the women of the house light earthen lamps (dipas), kept burning throughout the night glorifying Yama. Since this is the night before Diwali, it is also called 'Chhoti Diwali' or Minor Diwali in northern india.

In Jainism, this day is celebrated as Dhanyateras instead of Dhanteras, which means the "auspicious day of thirteenth." It is said that on this day Mahavira was in the state of leaving everything in this world and meditating before Moksha, which made this day auspicious or dhanya....

See also

References

  1. ^ "এবারের ধনতেরাস ঘুরে দাঁড়ানোর , এবারের ধনতেরাস পাশে দাঁড়ানোর". Nagarik News. 13 November 2020.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Hope-Murray, Angela (2013). Ayurveda For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 10. ISBN 9781118306703.
  3. ^ "Dhanteras to be observed as National Ayurveda Day". Times of India. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  4. ^ Dash, Mousumi (25 October 2019). "Why is Lord Dhanvantari worshiped on Dhanteras?". oneindia.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  5. ^ Vera, Zak (February 2010). Invisible River: Sir Richard's Last Mission. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4389-0020-9. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  6. ^ a b Pintchman, Tracy (2005). Guests at God's Wedding: Celebrating Kartik among the Women of Benares. SUNY Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780791482568.
  7. ^ "Ayurveda Day 2020: Narendra Modi To Inaugurate Two Ayurveda Institutions On November 13". NDTV.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  8. ^ Crump, William D. (30 March 2016). Encyclopedia of New Year's Holidays Worldwide. McFarland. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-4766-0748-1.