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Dhanteras: the Festival of Wealth
October 19, 2014, 2:53 pm

Dhanteras, this year falling on 21 October, which is also known as Dhantrayodashi is the first day of five-day long Diwali festivities. On the day of Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi is believed to have emerged out of the ocean during the churning of the Milky Sea. Hence, Goddess Lakshmi, along with Lord Kubera who is the God of wealth, is worshipped on the auspicious day of Trayodashi. However, Lakshmi Puja on Amavasya (New Moon night) is considered more significant. Lakshmi Puja on Dhanteras is performed after sunset and approximately lasts for two hours and 24 minutes. Alpana or Rangoli designs are drawn on pathways including the goddess' footprints to mark the arrival of Lakshmi. Aartis or devotional hymns are sung eulogizing Goddess Lakshmi and sweets and fruits are offered to her.In villages, cattle are adorned and worshiped by farmers as they form the main source of their income.

Dhanteras as the Legend has it
This festival is linked to the story about the son of King Hima whose stars predicted death on the fourth day after his marriage. The legend goes that when the fourth day arrived, his wife piled up her jewelry at the entrance and lighted lamps everywhere. She kept her husband awake by telling stories and singing songs, so that when Lord Yama, the God of death, sneaked in the form of a snake, he was dazzled by the glitter of the jewelry and stayed perched on the heap of riches, waiting for an opportunity to bite him. Since the wife kept her husband distracted with her storytelling all night long, Lord Yama decided to leave the place, sparing her husband's life. Hence, to honor Lord Yamraj, Dhanteras is also called 'Yamadeepdaan', and the ritual of keeping a 'Yama-diya' burning all through the night follows from this legend.

Another legend says, in the cosmic battle between the gods and the demons when both churned the ocean for ‘amrit’ or divine nectar, Dhanavantri – the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu – emerged carrying a pot of the elixir. So, according to this mythological tale, the word Dhanteras comes from the name Dhanavantri, the divine doctor.

Golden Touch of Dhanteras
This day holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals, silver articles or at least one or two new utensils on this day. People flock to jewelers and buy gold or silver jewelry or utensils to venerate the occasion of Dhanteras. Many wear new clothes and wear jewelry as they light the first lamp of Diwali while some engage in dice-games.

With Dhanteras — the auspicious day when Indians buy gold — less than a week away, a sustained drop in the price of the precious metal to multi-year lows has brought a lot of cheer for households. The steep fall in price, by over 30 percent in two years, is driven by a stronger US dollar, lower demand of the metal from India and China and lower exchange-traded fund holdings by global institutional investors.

On the occasion, one can buy gold in either the physical form (jewelry, bars and coins) or invest in gold exchange-traded funds of mutual fund companies. One can also opt for lower karat gold, which is relatively cheaper than 22 or 24 karat. For example, 18 karat gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metal or metals, making it 75 percent gold. Similarly, 14 karat gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metal or metals, making it 58.3 percent gold.

Gold Diggers Sold on Gold
This year on Dhanteras the jewelry shops are ready to capitalize upon the festive demand for gold bullion and jewelry. Branded jewelry retailers have bought forth their special festive and bridal jewelry collections and announced special schemes and discounts on gold and silver merchandises. They know that mothers look for a reason to buy gold and collect it for their daughter’s wedding and Dhanteras gives them yet another chance to add to their daughter’s golden trousseau.

The West can continue with its fixation on platinum and other suave jewelry but we Indians love to bask in the glory of brilliant gold. People indulge in gold shopping according to their budget. Coins, bars, chains, rings, bracelets, bangles, earrings, nose rings, pendants, necklaces, watches – people are simply spoilt for choice when it comes to gold shopping, especially on Dhanteras.

Some like the sober antique jewelry and for some, nothing but the heavy, shiny and chunky gold jewels would do.  While this differs from shopper to shopper, as long as it is gold jewelry, everything seems to work. Many shoppers wait around the year for gold prices to drop or for a celebratory occasion to arrive before gifting their family and loved ones with gold.This year’s Dhanteras arrives at the opportune moment when gold prices have fallen sharply. If not now, then when, is the question, when it comes to buying the precious metal for your loved ones to deck up on Diwali.


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