Those of us who know us, know that India is country that has lots of significance for the Global Grazers team. Our eldest son, André, was born in India. The elders (Patrice and me) spent many, many years working in India, and we moved there with Rachel when she was just over a year old. So, naturally, Diwali has become one of our favorite annual celebrations.
Hindus around the world began the festival of Diwali today with Dhanteras, a day which is dedicated to wealth. Many (if not most) will purchase gold, silver and household utensils today. They will decorate the entrances to their homes with colorful rangoli (colored rice flour designs), say prayers with offerings of fruits and sweets, and light lamps all around their properties, to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi to their homes.
There is a legend as old as time behind these celebrations. I have converted it into a fairytale and Chloé has kindly illustrated the tale for us. I hope you and your children enjoy it as much as we do.
The Legend of Dhanteras
Once upon a time in ancient India, there was a great king named Hima. For many years, he and his wife struggled to have children. When his first son was finally born, the overjoyed king called the royal astrologer to draw up his birth chart immediately.
Sadly, the king’s happiness was short lived. The astrologer predicted his son would die of a snake bite on the fourth night after his wedding.
Despite his sorrow, the king decided to make the best of it. He and his queen raised the prince with lots of love and tenderness, showering him with every possible comfort and sign of affection.
As soon as the royal prince turned 16, the king and queen dutifully searched far and wide for an appropriate life partner for him. They were fortunate to find a lovely young princess with a compatible horoscope in one of the neighboring kingdoms and wasted no time in making the match.
The date for the wedding celebrations was set and the entire kingdom waited anxiously for the marriage of its beloved prince. When the joyous day arrived, no expense was spared. The entire court was decked out in its finest gold and jewels and the young bride was resplendent in her finery. The feasting and celebrations lasted long into the night.
The newlyweds fell deeply in love that evening. So, you can only imagine the bride’s heartbreak when she discovered her husband’s tragic destiny — to die of a snakebite on the fourth night after their marriage.
The bride, determined not to allow the prince’s horoscope spoil their happiness, began plotting. She was certain she could find a solution.
On the fourth night after their wedding the prince’s bride piled all her jewelry, and every gold and silver coin she could find, in front of the door to the prince’s bedroom. She then placed brightly lit lamps all over the room, and proceeded to sing and tell stories throughout the night to keep the prince from sleeping.
When Lord Yama, god of death, arrived at the prince’s bedchamber disguised as a serpent, he was stunned by the brilliant light. He slithered to the top of the pile of gold coins and was so captivated by the young bride’s songs and stories that he was unable to move. He remained mesmerized throughout the night and slithered quietly away just as the sun rose.
The prince’s life was saved and the royal couple lived happily ever after. Until today, Hindus around the world celebrate Dhanteras to commemorate the bride’s cleverness and welcome Goddess Lakshmi into their homes for Diwali.