THE Hindu celebration of Dhanteras – or Dhana Trayodashi – marks the first day of the festival of Diwali in India and the Nepalese Tihar festival.
Gods and goddesses are worshipped in the celebrations, but what is the wider meaning of the annual festival?
When is Dhanteras 2020?
This year, Dhanteras falls on Friday, November 13.
Dhanteras is celebrated on the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin.
It marks the first of five days included in Diwali celebrations.
The festival is typically marked with dancing, food and fireworks.
There are usually many events held across the UK but this year many have been cancelled due to coronavirus.
This year celebrations will need to adhere to social distancing guidelines and public events will not take place.
Families will need to celebrate online and with fireworks in their own gardens, as the festival takes place in the second week of England’s national lockdown, which is due to end on December 2.
In Wales you cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.
In Scotland, socialising outdoors depends on which tier you are in and meeting indoors is not allowed.
What’s Dhanteras about?
During Dhanteras, Hindus worship Dhanvantari, who is considered to be the teacher of all physicians.
The day celebrates his birthday and is also a time of singing songs of praise to goddess Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and purity.
Dhanteras has therefore also become associated with wealth and people often 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 cars, make big purchases and invest in new technology.
On the day of Dhantrayodashi, Goddess Lakshmi is said to have come out of the ocean during the churning of the Milky Sea.
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.
Lakshmi Puja on Dhanteras should be done during Pradosh Kaal which starts after sunset and approximately lasts for 2 hours and 24 minutes.
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 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.
View more information: https://www.the-sun.com/news/1788776/dhanteras-festival-2020-puja-uk/