Dhanteras quite literally means the festival of wealth and it is widely believed in India that any material acquisition on this day is an auspicious thing to do.
Every year, jewelers see a surge in demand for gold as Indians flock to stores to buy either gold jewelry or gold coins on this day. Even demand for silver spikes on this day. In certain cities, jewelry shops open early in the morning and remain operational till midnight to factor in the massive crowds coming in to buy gold.
‘Dhanteras’, as the word ‘Dhan’ literally means wealth and ‘Tera’ comes from 13th. The festival falls in the month of Ashwin, and is celebrated on the 13th Lunar day according to the Hindu calendar.
Dhanteras has an interesting story which suggests why buying gold is considered auspicious on this day.
According to an adage, the story of Dhanteras revolves around a 16-year old King Hima and his newly-wed wife. A prophecy had indicated the king will die on the fourth-day of marriage.
In order to keep her husband awake and safe, his newly wedded wife is believed to have made a heap of her ornaments, including lots of gold and silver coins at the entrance of the sleeping chamber. She is then believed to have sung songs and narrated stories.
The next day, when the God of Death, Yama came to take the king, his eyes were dazzled by the blinding gold and silver. Unable to enter the chamber, Yama climbs the heap of wealth and sat there listening to the songs and stories. Later, Yama is believed to have left silently without taking the king.
Since then, buying gold or silver on this day or even other forms of ‘dhan’, is considered auspicious to keep evil and death away.