In the Hindu month of Kartik, the thirteenth day of the Krishna paksha, Dhanteras is the festival that is observed, as per the Hindu calendar. It is with Dhanteras that the celebration of Diwali begins, as it falls two days before Diwali.
It is also known as the 'Dhanvantri Jayanti' and 'Yamadeepdaan'. The word "Dhan" means wealth and "Teras" means 13, and it is on this day that the great goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, as it is said that it is on this day that goddess Lakshmi emerged from the ocean during the Samudra Manthan.
This year, Dhanteras falls on 28th October and the pooja can be performed any time between 17:40 (5:40 PM) and 20:55 (8:55 PM). Also, it is considered to be very auspicious if the Dhanteras pooja is performed between 6:40 PM and 8:50 PM.
Following is the Dhanteras puja vidhi and the mantra to invoke the gods. Have a look.
1. To begin with the Puja, one needs to make certain preparations and arrangements. This puja is performed in the evening after seeing the stars. For Dhanteras Puja, you'll need to get a clean wooden platform and make the symbol of swastik with a rangoli. Swastik is an ancient symbol of good fortune, wellness and prosperity.
2. Place a diya with four wicks (earthen or flour dough lamp) on this swastik and then light it. Make sure to use ghee or oil for the diyas.
3. Now you need to put a cowry shell with a hole into the diya and then light it. This diya is lit so as to gratify the lord of death 'Yamraj' and also to pay tribute to the deceased ancestors of the family. Now you have to perform the Dhanvatri Puja, for this sit down and recite the Dhanvantri mantra for 108 times. The Dhanvantri mantra goes as, ' Aum dhan dhanvatarey namah'.
4. After the Dhanvantri Puja, you have to follow it with the Ganesh Lakshmi puja. Offer flowers and sweets to the lord Ganesh as well as the goddess Lakshmi. Light incense sticks and Dhoop. You may use clay idols of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi to perform this vidhi of the Dhanteras puja.
5. With the help of a panchpatra, i.e., a copper vessel, sprinkle the holy water of river Ganga around the diya at least for three times. Now apply the roli tilak and rice grains on the lamp. After performing this, you are to offer four sweets to each of the four wicks of the diya. You can also use sugar, kheel and batasha to make the offering. Also, put a 1 rupee coin in the diya.
6. It is now that you have to offer flowers to the diya and finally light the incense sticks or dhoop batti. The women have to go around the diya for four times and then pray. Kneel and perform the Pranam to the diya to show your respect and devotion towards all the gods you have invoked.
7. The eldest woman of the family or an unmarried one puts tilak on the forehead of the rest of the family members, and lastly a male member of the family has to take the lit diya and place it on the right-hand side of the entrance of the house. It is also essential to note that while keeping the diya on the main entrance, you must make sure that the flame of the diya is in the southern direction.