'Health is wealth', says an old adage. On Dhanteras, the first day of the Diwali festivities, which began on Friday, devotees prayed to goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and to Dhanwantari, the physician of the deities.
Dhanteras, also called Dhanwantari Trayodashi, is the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashvin.
Mumbaikars celebrate Dhanteras
For Gujaratis and Marwris, health and wealth are equally important aspects of a well-lived life. So, while they pray to Lakshmi, worship is also offered to a less-known deity, Dhanwantari. "We pray to Dhan(wealth), but we also worship Dhanwantari for a healthy life. Even Doctors pray to him. The prayer during Diwali for a healthy life is not something that many young people know about," said Bharat Gada, a resident of Matunga.
Sheetal Sangole, a Chembur resident said that the day is important for ayurveda doctors. Some families pay reverence to Ayurvedic medicines. "It is a festival of Dhana or wealth, so Godess Laxmi is worshipped on this auspicious day. Also health is wealth, and as our ancient beliefs Dhanwantari is god of health he is also worshipped on this day," said Sangole.
Doctors greeted each other, with one doctor explaining the significance of the day with a tweet that read: Dhanvantari Trayodashi or Dhanteras honors Dhanvantari, physician of the gods, who emerged this day from samudra manthan holding a pot full of amrita and the sacred text about Ayurveda for the welfare of mankind.'
Pujas were also held for goddess Lakshmi in the evening and the day was not complete without a token purchase of gold or silver. "Gold has become very expensive, but everyone will definitely buy at least a silver coin to add to the collection in the locker," said Gada.
Dhantrayodashi for Maharashtrians
Maharashtrians call the day 'Dhantrayoshi'. Home fronts are decorated with lighted earthen lamps and Rangoli, patterns drawn with coloured powder. Akash Kandils, or lanterns, are hung up near the main entrance to the house. New clothes, brass utensils and gold are part of the shopping list. "Coriander seeds and jaggary is is offered as Naivadya to God Dhanwantari, Godess Laxmi and Kuber who is manager of the treasury. To shoo away Yama who brings bad omens, Marathi people light an earthen lamp called Panati - with its wick facing towards south because Lord Yama is supposed to come from that direction," said Sangole.
Bengalis do not have significant religious rituals on Dhanteras, but Kali Puja on the evening of November 12 is their main Diwali day. "The puja starts in the evening and goes on past midnight," said Supriyo Lahiri from Powai.
"In Bengali culture Kali Puja also known as Shyama Puja is celebrated on the day during Diwali festivity. While most people in India worship Lakshmiji on Amavasya Tithi during Diwali, Bengalis worship Goddess Kali on new moon day, the most important day of Diwali," said Samota Roy of Spandan foundation which is celebrating Kali Puja in Powai, in the same Durga puja ground on November 12.
At Bengal Club, Shivaji Park, Amavasya Puja will be offered on November 12. On November 14, the Kali Temple at the Bengal Club will celebrate Annakut where devotees can bring cooked vegetarian food - prepared without onion, garlic, asafoetida and red lentils - as bhog to Goddess Kali.