The significance of Dhanteras is manifold:
- Worship of Wealth: It is primarily associated with wealth and prosperity. People worship the goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Lord Kubera, the god of assets and riches on this day, seeking their blessings for good fortune and prosperity.
- Buying Metals: It is considered auspicious to purchase gold, silver, and utensils on Dhanteras, as such purchases are believed to bring good luck and success. This tradition is rooted in the belief that new "Dhan" or some form of precious metal is a sign of good luck.
- Health and Well-being: Another significant aspect of Dhanteras is the worship of Lord Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is believed to have emerged during the churning of the ocean, known as Samudra Manthan, carrying a pot of amrita (the elixir of immortality). Thus, Dhanteras also carries an emphasis on health and well-being.
- Lighting Lamps: To ward off evil spirits, lamps are lit throughout the night in reverent adoration to God Yama, the god of death, and to seek his protection from untimely death.
- Celebration and Joy: It is a time for families to come together and celebrate. Cleaning and decorating the home, making rangolis, lighting diyas, and preparing for Diwali are all part of the joyous activities that take place.
Dhanteras embodies the themes of cleansing, renewal, and the securing of auspiciousness as embodied in wealth and health. It sets the tone for the coming days of Diwali, filled with lights, celebration, and social gatherings.