I am convinced that Dhanteras might be the best thing about Diwali. Think about it…what a great excuse to go shopping. Not that I need an excuse to go shopping, but in this economy, I need definitely need an excuse to go shopping at Williams-Sonoma.

What is Dhanteras?

For those of you who do not know already, Dhanteras marks the first day of the Diwali celebrations. Dhan means money or wealth in Hindi and Teras signifies the thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksh, the dark aspect of the Lunar Month Kartik.

People worship Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth on Dhanteras. The story goes that if you purchase valuable products like ornaments, gemstones, and metal household products then you are effectively bringing Lakshmi or wealth into your home. So the year following will bring prosperity to your home and your life. The Indian business community always celebrates Dhanteras by purchasing something valuable which can be kept throughout the year.

A Celebration of Dhanwantari

Dhanteras also celebrates Dhanwantari, the Ayurvedic Physician of the Gods. legend tells us that on this day, Dhanwantari emerged from Lord Vishnu’s Samudra Manthan or churning of the ocean with a pot of life-giving nectar. Like many of my South Indian friends, my personal celebration includes having the customary Ayurveda Abhyanga Snana treatment on this day. My kids thoroughly enjoy getting into the bathtub to smear themselves with fragrant oils and sandalwood. To them the notion of ‘spring cleaning’ themselves to prepare for the arrival of Lakshmi has become an essential Diwali custom.

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Diwali, India’s Festival of Light – A Story For Kids on National Geographic Kids