The festival of Dhanteras is celebrated by Hindus all across India during the months of October-November. Falling on the 13th day of Kartik months, this festival marks the beginning of five day festivities of Diwali. It takes place two days before Diwali, honouring the incarnation of Vishnu from the churning of sea, Dhanvantari and is also known as Yamadeepdaan, because of the legend related to it. As on this day, according to the horoscope of 16 year old son of King Hima, he (the son) was predestined to die due to snake bite on the fourth day of his marriage. To save him, his wife didn't let him sleep on that ill fated day. She kept on singing songs to him, narrated several stories to him, and made a big stack of all her jewels, gold and silver ornaments and coins, at the entrance of their chamber. She even lit numerous lamps and diyas all over the palace.
When Lord Yama, the Lord of Death came in the guise of a snake, he was blinded due to the sparkle of the gold ornaments and couldn't enter the prince's room. The serpent as a result mounted the stack and sat over there the complete night listening to her melodious songs. With the first light of the day, the snake went away quietly overlooking its intention of killing the prince. The young wife of the prince in this way saved his life from the claws of death. It is since then that this auspicious day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of 'Yamadeepdaan'. The lamps are kept lit throughout night on this festival as they symbolize the respect for Lord Yama. The festival is also recognised as Dhanvantari Jayanti, as after the Samudra Manthan between gods and demons, Dhanvantari, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, came out of the sea carrying the urn full of ambrosia.
On this day, people pray to god for good health and wealth for the family. They decorate clay idols of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi, and these idols are worshipped on the day of Diwali. Silver articles are bought for the house and iron, copper or brass utensils are bought for the kitchen on this auspicious day. Houses are refurbished; decorations are done to honour this auspicious festival. Entrances of the house are decorated with colourful patterns to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. To indicate her arrival, small footprints are made with rice and flowers all over the house. Diyas are kept lit all through the night on this festival. Celebrated with great zeal and delight, on this festival of Dhanteras, Lakshmi Puja is performed in the evenings with little clay diyas, bhajans and devotional music in the praise of the goddess. The Diyas are lit to drive away the evil spirits. In villages, cattle are worshiped by farmers as they serve as their main source of income.
In 2016, the festival of Dhanteras will be celebrated on 28th October, Friday.