The festival of Dhanteras is also known by the names of Dhantrayodashi and Dhanvantari Trayodashi. Dhan Teras falls on the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Kartik (October-November), i.e. two days before Diwali. It is the festival that marks the beginning of the diwali celebrations and therefore it is considered the first day of five days long festivities of diwali. Dhanteras is celebrated to seek blessings of Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. In the amalgamation of Dhan teras 'Dhan' means wealth. God Yama is also worshiped on this day to provide prosperity and well being.
On this day, houses and business centers are renovated and rangoli designs to welcome the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. To indicate her long-awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over the houses. Lamps are kept burning all through the nights.
Being a day dedicated to the festival of wealth, on this people purchase a new utensil, silver or gold coin or some other precious metal as a sign of good luck on the day of dhanteras. This is also a tradition related with celebrations of the festival of Dhanvantari Trayodashi. Dhanteras festival is ideal time for setting up businesses, commencing new projects, housewarming, deciding wedding dates, buying cars and jewellery.
"Lakshmi-Puja" is performed in the evenings when tiny diyas of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits.
The story of Yamadeedaan:
The legend behind Dhanteras is centred on the sixteen-year-old son of King Hima. As per his horoscope he was fated to breathe his last on the fourth day of his marriage owing to snakebite. On the appointed day his wife illuminated the house with numerous lamps and placed a heap of gold and silver coins and ornaments in front of their bedroom. All through the night she sang songs and told stories. The lights of the lamps, and the dazzle of the coins and ornaments blinded the god of death, Yam devta, who had come as a serpent. He spent the entire night in the heap listening to the sweet sounding songs before leaving peacefully the next morning. Thus, the wife succeeded in saving the life of her husband. This explains, why the Dhan teras festival is also referred to as "Yamadeepdaan".
The Story of Samudramanthan:
The legend of Samudramanthan is at the heart of these celebrations. According to this story, when the gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrut or nectar, Dhanavantri, the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu emerged carrying a jar of the elixir.