Festivals and social days

Dhanteras: Illuminating India's Prosperity and Heritage

Dhanteras, a vibrant prelude to Diwali in India, carries a tale of auspicious legends, intricate traditions, and widespread celebrations. Rooted in the myth of thwarting death with light and wealth, this festival symbolizes prosperity and hope. Across the country, homes glitter with lamps, rangoli adorns doorways, and the air is filled with prayers to Goddess Lakshmi. Regional customs from purchasing gold and utensils to communal pujas unite the diverse cultural tapestry of India in a celebration that invokes prosperity, spreads joy, and rekindles the unity of family and community.

By Shreya Rajvanshi Gangal

Dhanteras: Illuminating India's Prosperity and Heritage

Dhanteras, a vibrant and cherished festival, marks the onset of Diwali, the festival of lights, in India. Rooted in rich legends and customs, this auspicious occasion holds profound significance in Indian heritage. Celebrated with fervour and joy, Dhanteras encompasses fascinating legends, deeply ingrained traditions, and colourful celebrations that resonate across the diverse tapestry of India.

Legends and Significance

At the heart of Dhanteras lies the legend of King Hima's son, whose life was foretold to be perilously short due to an astrological prophecy. On the fateful night of Dhanteras, his wife devised a plan. She laid out heaps of gold and silver coins, along with bright ornaments and lit countless lamps. To keep her husband awake, she narrated stories and sang songs. As the god of death, Yama, arrived in the guise of a serpent, he was mesmerized by the brilliance of the lights and dazzled by the glimmering ornaments. The god was charmed and lingered, listening to the melodious tales. Ultimately, when daybreak arrived, Yama departed, sparing the life of the son. Since then, Dhanteras has been celebrated to ward off misfortune and welcome prosperity and longevity.

Traditions and Celebrations

Dhanteras is marked by vibrant customs and rituals. To invoke good fortune, people clean their homes, and adorn entrances with vibrant Rangoli designs, and light oil lamps to welcome wealth and prosperity. The purchase of gold, silver, utensils, and other valuable items is a customary practice on this day. It is believed that investing in these items brings abundance and luck into one's life.

In different regions, the day is observed diversely. In some parts of India, special pujas (prayers) are offered to Goddess Lakshmi, the harbinger of wealth and prosperity. Temples are adorned, and devotional songs are sung to honour the goddess. In some households, intricate designs made from vermilion and rice flour adorn the thresholds to invite prosperity. Community gatherings, cultural events, and market fairs add to the festive fervour.

Celebrations Across India

Dhanteras, celebrated with regional variations, unites the diverse cultural fabric of India. In North India, people often buy metal utensils or gold as a part of the tradition. In the western states, it’s a day associated with business prosperity, and in the southern parts, it’s celebrated with oil baths, prayers, and lighting lamps.


Dhanteras is not merely a festival; it's a celebration of hope, prosperity, and the triumph of light over darkness. As families come together, exchanging gifts, sharing joy, and invoking blessings for a prosperous year ahead, this festival illuminates the essence of unity and tradition across India. In the glittering aura of lamps and the resonance of prayers, Dhanteras heralds the advent of Diwali, embracing the heritage and aspirations of a nation rich in culture and beliefs.

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