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The legend of Dhanteras

The story of Dhanteras revolves around the son of King Hima, whose horoscope predicted that he would die of a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. To counter the prediction, his wife did not let him sleep all day and laid out her ornaments in a basket and kept them near the door with lit lamps. She kept on singing so her husband wouldn’t sleep. When on the next day, Yama, the God of Death, came in the form of a serpent to bite the prince, he was dazzled by all the light. He could not enter the house and left the man alone. His wife’s cleverness saved him and that is why the day is celebrated and people buy gold on it.

Much like King Hima’s wife displayed an array of gold with lamps to ‘blind’ Yama, it is believed that a symbolic buying of gold, silver, jewellery and utensils will act as protection against ill will and is auspicious, bringing good luck to every member of the family. People also wear buy new clothes – which are then worn on the occasion of Diwali. They also worship Goddess Lakshmi, and many diyas are lit around the house so as to drive away the dark shadows of evil. Pujas also consist of paath, arati and singing bhajans.

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