Today 21st October 2014 is an auspicious day for Hindus all over the globe. This is the first day of Deepawali commonly known as Diwali for this year. Deepawali is a 5 day occasion with each day signifying various aspects of spiritual/social life culminating into the super festival of Deepawali to celebrate the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of Vanvas (exile) in the forest. I will write about that story shortly.
But for today, Dhanteras also known as “Dhanatraydashi” or “Dhanvantari Trayodashi” is celebrated with pomp and devotion all across India and everywhere else where Hindus have made their homes. Dhan means wealth and teras means 13th. Hindus have their own calendar and all festivals are celebrated according to that. Hence it seldom falls on the same date/day year on year.
On Dhanteras we pray to Lord Dhanvantari who is an incarnation of the ever prevailing Lord “Vishnu” and who it is said came out of the great churning of oceans carrying the pot of “Amrut” (elixir, which gives eternal life). Lord Dhanvantari is also given the title of universal healer as he is the carrier of “Amrut”. There is another story where the son of King Hima has a weird horoscope. According to the horoscope, he will die of snake bite on the 4th day after his marriage. His newly wed wife came to know about this after marriage. So on that particular day, she didn’t allow him to sleep neither during day nor during night. At night time, she put all her ornaments and gold/silver coins at the entrance of the door and lit thousands of lamps. And then she started telling various stories and folklores to her husband. It is said that Yama (God of Death) came in the form of a snake to bite the son of Hima but was so dazzled by the light from the lamps and gold and silver that he could not enter the room. He also sat there the whole night listening to the stories and folklores and left in the morning.
People celebrate Dhanteras by praying to Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth), do pooja (prayer), make rangoli (colored drawings), etc. Dhanteras is also an auspicious time to buy gold/silver/property. This day is also called mini/minor Deepawali. More details on wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhanteras).
Happy Dhanteras to all and May Lord Dhanvantari and Goddess Laxmi bless you and your family!