Dhanteras is observed two days before Diwali. A famous story, or Katha, associated with Dhanteras narrates why Goddess Lakshmi visits homes on Dhanteras. On the Dhan Teras day, people clean their houses and invite Goddess Lakshmi by lighting an earthen lamp at the doorstep of the house.
Dhanteras is observed on the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight (waning phase of moon) in Kartik month as per traditional Hindu calendar in
North India. The corresponding period in other regions is the dark fortnight of Ashwin month.
Once Goddess Lakshmi wanted to accompany Lord Vishnu to the earth during one of His visits. Lord Vishnu agreed to take Her with him provided She will not fall for earthly temptation and will not look in the southern direction.
But Goddess Lakshmi was tempted to look in the southern direction and when she got an opportunity she looked in the southern direction.
In southern direction she saw yellow mustard flowers and started dancing in the fields and decorated herself with the flowers. She fell for earthly temptations.
Further south she saw sugarcane fields and started enjoying the sugarcane juice.
Lord Vishnu soon found out that Goddess Lakshmi had violated the conditions and said that now you will need to spend 12 years as laborer in the field of the person to whom the sugarcane and flowers belonged.
With the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi as laborer the farmer became very prosperous. Twelve years passed and it was time for Goddess Lakshmi to return.
But the farmer was not ready to relieve a good laborer. So he offered Goddess Lakshmi more wages. But Goddess Lakshmi still wanted to leave; the farmer offered more things and this denial and offers continued.
Finally, Goddess Lakshmi asked the farmer and his family to take a pilgrimage to
and they will decide on her future stay there on his return. Goddess Lakshmi also gave four small shells to the farmer to offer to Goddess Ganga. Ganga River
When the farmer was offering the shells to River Ganga, four hands came up and accepted the offering.
Farmer soon realized that the shells he offered was no ordinary shell and the person who gave it was no ordinary woman. He prayed to Goddess Ganga to enlighten him. Goddess
Ganga then revealed that the woman at the farmer’s home is Goddess Lakshmi.
The farmer returned home happily realizing that it was Goddess Lakshmi who was staying in his house. He requested her not to leave. Goddess Lakshmi said that she cannot live on earth permanently and has to return. But she said that she will visit him on all Dhanteras day. She asked the farmer to keep the house clean and light an earthern lamp.
The farmer said as directed by Goddess Lakshmi and he became very prosperous and people who came to know about the incident started performing the same ritual on Dhanteras day.