Dhanteras, or the favorite day for all the jewellers out there.
Everyone sets out to buy gold and silver as it is auspicious, and that’s all I needed to know. That is all you really need to know.
Me – Why do people go and buy gold on Dhanteras?
Answer from mom – Because it is auspicious, stupid!
Now, I used to call myself a curious soul, but turns out I never dug for the answers on this one or maybe it never did pique my curiosity at all until the editor in my office actually shouted out –
“Which one of you knows why Dhanteras is celebrated?”
No one answered because no one knew. I wanted to answer – “Because it is auspicious!”, but that would have entailed some sort of punishment and so I let it slide and here are the stories I looked up. It is pretty cool –
The story of king Hima and his smart wife who sent back Death himself
There was a 16-year-old prince called Hima. His horoscope stated that he would die due to a snake bite on the fourth day after his marriage.
Now, he must be a jolly good fellow, because his wife did not like this, so she came up with a cool plan. She took all her jewellery and gems and gold and heaped them just outside the door.
Then she sang and talked his ear off, so he didn’t sleep. Now we know, when women start talking, you better not ignore them, unless you want to invoke their wrath.
So, Hima the smart kiddo, stayed up and listened to her yap about everything.
Now, Yama, the God of Death came in the form of a snake and was blinded by all the gold that was heaped outside the door. Then he climbed on that heap of gold and listened to Hima’s wife’s jibber jabber. She must have been a good storyteller, cause Yama forgot everything about taking Hima’s soul.
In the morning he left and Hima lived with his smartypants wife happily ever after.
The smart wife used all the gold for the right reasons and saved Hima’s life. So, you see, gold and riches can literally bring good fortune if used properly, and Dhanteras is the festival celebrating this story.
The churning of the cosmic ocean and the birth of Dr. Dhanavantari
You must remember that scene from the old TV mythological shows where they showed an epic battle between the gods and the demons where they are playing a cosmic game of tug of war.
The prize is in the middle where a pot of Amrit or nectar of immortality is churning.
The legend goes that Dhanteras is the day then the cosmic physician of the gods – Dhanavantari – came out with one big pot of this nectar.
Hence, the festival’s name Dhanteras comes from Dr. Dhanavantari, MD (Cosmic)
So, there you go. Now you can be that person in a group of people today, who asks everyone – “Guys, do you know why Dhanteras is celebrated?”
And when you don’t get an answer – go ahead and be that irritating know-it-all guy.
Until then – Happy Diwali!
Cover image source