Dhanteras food is offered to the Hindu Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi on the occasion of Dhanteras which is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight, two days prior to Diwali, the festival of lights. It had been traditionally celebrated in the Northern and Western regions of India, although it is popular in other parts of the country too. People buy gold and household utensils on the day as it is considered to be auspicious.
The food is usually sweet as the Indians believe in offering the sweet dishes to their Gods for being blessed with prosperity and happiness.
There are many legends about the celebration of Dhanteras. The word ‘Dhan’ signifies wealth and Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in all Indian households by being offered special ‘Naivedya’( offerings to the holy) made by following the traditional recipes recommended for the festive occasion. Lord Yama, the God of Death is remembered on this day and people of India pray for a long life free from diseases.
Traditional Dhanteras Recipes
The Dhanteras food comprises an elaborate menu and the customs followed in offering the food to the dieties differs from one community to another. The Maharashtrians place the food on banana leaves at the feet of the deity during the ritual. Some households use silver utensils for offering the food .
A special offering prepared for the occasion is known as ‘panchamrit’ which is made by mixing equal parts honey, sugar, ghee, yogurt and milk. Water purified by immersing tulsi (Holy basil) leaves is also given to the members of household before the Prasad is distributed to them.
Since Dhanteras is celebrated a couple of days prior to Diwali, there are no recipes unique to the occasion as such. Most of the Diwali delicacies are prepared throughout the week and eaten on the day of Dhanteras as well. Some of the best known Dhanteras food items are:-
- Gajar Halwa- A sweet dish prepared with grated carrots and cream, which is customarily eaten on Dhanteras and Diwali.
- Kaju Barfi- Diamond shaped sweet prepared with milk cream and cashew powder is included among the traditional recipes of Northern India.
- Badam Ka Seera- A sweet dish prepared with almonds, hot milk and sugar.
- Shakkarpare- A food traditionally associated with the recipes in Northern and Western India. It is popular due to its unique taste and long shelf life.
- Gathiya- Savory and crunchy snack dish prepared in Rajasthan.
Significance of Dhanteras Recipes
Dhanteras food holds special significance in the Indian households as it marks the beginning of the week long celebrations associated with Diwali. Enjoyable Dhanteras food is considered as a good omen for the coming celebrations and eventually for the coming good luck and prosperity. The ‘Naivedya’ offered in Maharashtrian household is also symbolic of Amrut or elixir believed to make man immortal.