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Diwali Begins....

What is Dhanteras?

'Dhanteras' is the first day of Diwali, a Hindu or rather an Indian festival that is celebrated over five days. So the five days of festivities are-

Day 1- Dhanteras

Day 2- Choti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdasi

Day 3- Diwali (the most celebrated day)

Day 4- Gujarati New Year and Gudi Padwa

Day 5- Bhai Dhooj

How is Dhanteras celebrated?

According to Kalyani Bhat, who has taught religious classes in the Dallas Fort Worth Hindu Temple for 8 years, Dhanteras, or Dhanatrayodashi, is the day when Goddess Laxmi is worshiped for prosperity. This continues for the next few days of Diwali celebrations. On this particular day however, precious metals like Gold and silver are bought.  Some buy steel vessels. It is also believed that Dhanvantri, the physician of the Gods (an incarnation of Vishnu), emerged from the ocean during the 'Samudra Manthan', the churning of the ocean by the Gods and the demons. Hence some celebrate the day as his birth anniversary (jayanti). It is common to light fireworks on this day too.

My Take- Dhanteras is an alternate Diwali ...

Once you're married, the emotional tussle starts about which side of the family to celebrate Diwali with. For Americans here in America, it is a fairly easy decision. There are two equally important festivals- Thanksgiving and Christmas. Couples often tend to celebrate one of the two with each side of the family, sometimes even switching each year. For us Hindus, Diwali is pretty much the most important festival. To further complicate matters, we typically tend to give more weighted preference to the boy's side of the family, as per our age-old culture. Under such circumstances, Dhanteras provides a 'happy' solution for us during our visit to India when faced with having to make the tough choice of where to be on the actual Diwali day. In fact, one such Dhanteras is my favorite memory of Dhanteras when we celebrated the occasion with full fan-fare that Diwali enjoys- complete with donning on traditional clothes, performing Lakshmi pooja, playing cards and enjoying fireworks. This being the case, since it is the first day of celebrations, there is enough time to travel to the other parents' house. Yes, I personally love Dhanteras for that very reason.

Best Wishes ...

We wish our readers a very auspicious Dhanteras!

May this day bring peace, progress and prosperity your way!

(by Sonal Kulshrestha)


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