Dhanteras marks the beginning of the Diwali festival. It is observed on the 13th lunar day of the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha) in the month of Kartik. In 2013, this festival will be celebrated on 1st November 2013 Friday.
Dhan-trayodashi or Dhanteras is one of the five days of Diwali and takes place two days before Diwali in honor of Dhanavantri, the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu. Dhan means "wealth" and Trayodashi means ď13th day". Thus, as the name implies, this day falls on the 13th day of the first half of the lunar month or the month of Ashwin. The day is of great significance to the prosperous mercantile community in Western India. Houses and offices are beautifully decorated and colorful Diwali Rangolis or motifs are made to adorn the entrance in order to welcome the Goddess of wealth and Prosperity, Lakshmi. Small footsteps are drawn all over the house to indicate her long awaited arrival. It is also considered favorable to purchase gold or silver on this day. Even those who cannot afford gold or silver ensure that they at least buy two new utensils.
A traditional pooja (prayer) is held in the temples in the evening and people light Diwali diyas (small oil lamps) to ward away evil spirits. People also sing devotional songs called Bhajans in praise of the Goddess Lakshmi.
Being a businessman, if you perform the puja on Labh Muhurat, then you may get more benefits. The Shubh Muhurat will help you acquire wealth and keep you in good health. It is believed that worshipping on Shubh Muhurat increases one's longevity. However, Amrit Muhurat is considered as the best time to perform the puja.
When Yam, The God and harbinger of death, arrived at the scene in the guise of a serpent, the bright lights dazzled his eyes and he couldnít see a thing. So he slithered atop the pile of gold and silver and sat there listening to Savitriís melodious singing all night long. When morning dawned, he quietly went away. In this way, the young wife saved her husbandís life. And it is for this reason that this day is also referred to as Yamadeepdaan, and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yam, the god of Death.
According to another legend, when the gods and the demons churned the ocean in pursuit of the elusive ĎAmrití or the nectar of life, they waged a fierce battle against one another. Amidst this chaos emerged Dhanavantri, the physician of the Gods and an incarnation Vishnu, clutching the elixir in his hands and thus ending the fierce battle.
"Lakshmi-Puja" is performed in the evenings when tiny diyas of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits. "Bhajans"-devotional songs- in praise of Goddess Laxmi are sung and "Naivedya" of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess. There is a peculiar custom in Maharashtra to lightly pound dry coriander seeds with jaggery and offer as Naivedya.
In villages cattle are adorned and worshiped by farmers as they form the main source of their income. In south cows are offered special veneration as they are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and therefore they are adorned and worshiped on this day. People also exchange exclusive Dhanteras gifts .