Dhan means wealth and trayodashi is the 13th day of the weaning moon in the month of Ashwin. Thus, on the day of Dhanatrayodashi all the sources of wealth are worshipped. Apart from this, Dhanatrayodashi is taken as a day to learn from the experience of one's past deeds and pay homage to memory of ancestors from whom one inherits these traditions.
The farmers worship their cattle and their weapons. Women buy something in metal especialy silver, good for the house. On this day, doorways are hung with torans, garland made of mango leaves and marigolds and decorated with Rangolis drawn to welcome guests.
On this day, Dhanvantari, the God of health and welfare is worshipped by performing acts such as cleaning the entire house, buying new clothes, new vessels etc. Shri Dhanvantari is worshipped on this day because this is the day that he arose from the ocean during the famous Samudra Manthan. The God of Health is worshiped first because Hinduism gives tremendous importance to physical well being.
Dhanteras is also known as Yamadeepdaan and lamps are kept burning through the night in reverential adoration to Yama - and prayers offered to him to keep away death and despair. A very interesting story about this day is attached to the sixteen year old son of King Hima. As per his horoscope he was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage.
On that fateful fourth day of his marriage his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband's palatial room and lighted infinite numbers of lamps all over the place. After all these, she went on telling stories and singing songs so that her husband is not able to sleep.
When Yam, the god of Death arrived there appearing in form of a Serpent his eyes got blinded by the dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the Prince's chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away.
Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of "Yamadeepdaan" and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in remembering Yam, the god of Death.
Thirteen lamps made of wheat flour and lit with oil are placed outside the house, facing southwards (direction of Lord Yama), in the evening. A lamp is never kept facing southwards except on this day. Then, reciting the following mantra one should offer obeisance: "I offer these thirteen lamps to the son (Lord Yama) of the Sun deity (Surya), so that He liberates me from the clutches of death and bestows His blessings."
The first festival of Diwali, Dhan Teyras falls on triyodashi of Kartik Krishna Paksha, two days before Diwali. Two legends are worshiped on this day. One of Lord Yamaraja, the other of Dhanvantri holding a pot of Amrit (immortal juice). Lord Yamaraj is worshiped to avoid untimely death Dhanvantri is worshiped for good health.
On Dhan Teyras, fast is kept and the worship is done by lighting an earthen lamp on the main entrance of the house and offering water, vermilion, rice, jaggery and flowers to Yamaraj. Dhanvanti is the physician of the gods. He appeared out of the churning of the ocean, as one of the fourteen jewels emerged from the churning. He came out of the sea, holding a pot full of Amrit (immortal juice). He is worshiped on Dhan teyras day, as advised by Yama and in order to be free from disease and fear of death.
On this day, "Bhajans" devotional songs- in praise of Goddess Laxmi are also 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.
Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi / Dhantheran
Observed two days before Diwali, Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi signifies the importance of money in our life. We cannot move not even inch without money. Everybody knows that without money, it is very difficult to survive. Thus for attaining money, people to pray Lord Kubera on the day of Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi. This day is also known as Dhana Trayodasi or Dhanteras.
The Lord of finance is Kubera. Thus, if devotees pray sincerely on the Dhana Trayodasi with utmost faith, one need not worry for finance. The Kubera Mantra is recited on this day. The mantra is:
"Om Yakshaya, Kuberaya, Vysravanaya, Dhanadanyathipatiye, Dhana Dhanya Samruthideye, Dehi Dapaya Swaha"
On the day of Asweyuja Bahula Trayodasi, the devotee has to place the Kubera Yantra or Photo in the Pooja room. At the outset, one has to pray the Lord Vigneswara and then start performing pooja to the Lord Kubera and seek his blessings. One has to place Honey, Jaggery and Dry dates before the photo or Yantra and light the lamp with pure ghee.
On Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi, all businesspersons whitewash their shops and close their accounts. They worship goddess Lakshmi and the accounting books with coins. Some organise a doll show also. Lamps are lighted and placed at the entrance after dusk in order to combat untimely death.