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Auspicious time to shop - Dhanteras

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Dhanteras - variety to shop at Shubh jewellers, Bangalore.
Dhanteras - variety to shop at Shubh jewellers, Bangalore.

Deepavali, apart from celebrating the victory of good over evil, is also about ushering in prosperity. For North Indians, the five-day Diwali celebrations kick off with Dhanteras, which quite literally means- dhan-wealth, and teras- thirteen. The ‘thirteen' is because Dhanteras falls on thirteenth day after full moon day in Krishna Paksha in the month of karthik. This year, Dhanteras falls on November 3. The festival is also known as Dhantrayodashi or Dhanwantari Triodasi.

In order to welcome Godess Lakshmi, homes and business houses are spring cleaned and decorated. Colourful, vibrant and elaborate rangolis are painstakingly drawn at enttances and miniature footprints, metaphorically attributed to Goddess Lakshmi, are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over house. In the evenings, families congregate to perform Lakshmi puja and then sing bhajans in praise of Goddess of Wealth. The flicker od diyas and lamps, which are kept lit all night, add a magical touch to the festivities. The diyas are lit to chase off the the shadows of evil spirits. And but naturally, sweets, which are so integral to any Indian festival, are distributed. In Maharashtra, a unique custom prevails where coriander seeds are pounded with jiggery and offered as naivedya.

Since the festival is so intrinsically interlinked with prosperity, buying gold and silver on this day is a firmly entrenched tradition- something similar to Akshaya Trithiya where buying gold is the tradition. In urban areas, it is considered auspicious to either buy something in gold or silver or even some utensils or vessels – a symbolic way to usher in wealth. It is believed that new ‘dhan' or any precious new metal is a harbinger of good luck.

Those who are wealthy go in for gold – either jewellery or gold coins; some may buy silver or silver coins. And for others , copper or stainless steel vessels symbolize the ‘dhan'.

In village, however, the scenario is different. In the countryside, cattle are a sign of a person's wealth and success. So, in rural areas, cattle are decked out and worshiped by farmerssince they are the principal source of their income. Even in the south the tradition of worshiping and adorning cattle is followed since it is believed that cattle are the incarnation of goddess lakshmi. Another significant ritual associated with this day is the yamdeepam, a poignant scene where diyas are lit for each member of the family the glowing diyas are floated in a river or a pond.

Like so many other festival in the fast-paced 21 {+s} {+t} century, Dhanteras too is slowly transforming into a pan Indian festival. Any festival that augurs wealth is appealing to us!

And Dhanteras, with its simple rituals and promise of prosperity has caught on down south with many families investing in gold or silver on this favourable day.

SUDHINDR A B


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