Otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a holiday of Hindu origin and is widely celebrated throughout India.
The five-day event begins on the 13th day of the month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar, which falls in October or November. Celebrants light clay lamps, said to represent the destruction of anything negative in one’s life, and celebrate the goddess Lakshmi, who is purported to bring wealth and good fortune.
Here is an overview of what happens on each day:
Day 1 – Dhanteras
The festival begins on the 13th day with Dhanteras, also called Dhantrayodashi. On this day, people worship Lord Kubera and Goddess Lakshmi and buy something new. Considered very auspicious, people purchase gold, silver, clothes, gadgets as a sign of good fortune. This day is purely dedicated to the goddess of wealth and it is also believed that Goddess Lakshmi emerged with a pot of gold during ‘Amrit-Manthan’.
Dhanteras is not a public holiday in any region of India.
Day 2 – Naraka Chaturdasi
Naraka Chaturdasi, the second day, is also known as Choti Diwali, is celebrated on the 14th day of the Kartik month. According to Hindu tradition, the demon Narakasura was killed on this day. The day is all about getting rid of anything bad. People get up early and wash and put on clean or new clothes.
Afterwards, they will celebrate by having a special breakfast with their friends and family. This day, also known as Chhoti Diwali, is a day for visiting friends, business associates and relatives, and for exchanging gifts.
Naraka Chaturdashi is a public holiday in Karnataka.
Read more about Naraka Chaturdasi
Day 3 – Diwali/Lakshmi Puja
The main festive day is Diwali, when people perform Lakshmi Puja. The main celebration of Diwali takes place on this day and marks the return of Lord Rama, who was the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, from a fourteen-year exile.
Across India streets and temples are decorated with spectacular light displays and colourful garlands.
In their homes, people light small oil lamps called diyas. It is believed that deceased relatives come back to visit their families on Earth during this festival and the lights are a way to guide the spirits home. The sound of firecrackers exploding is common as the noise is said to drive away evil spirits.
People welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, who is believed to bless people with luck and prosperity.
Lord Ganesha is also worshipped on this auspicious day and people decorate the entire house with diyas, candles, lights, earthen lamps. Delicious sweets are prepared and gifts are exchanged and people celebrate the evening with joy, happiness, prayers and laughter.
Day 4 – Govardhan Puja
Govardhan Puja is celebrated a day after Diwali and people worship Lord Krishna on this day. People believe that Lord Krishna saved the residents of Mathura from Lord Indra by lifting a mountain named ‘Govardhan’. People make miniature clay and cow-dung, symbolising Govardhan and worship them. They also prepare 56 varieties of vegetarian food and drinks for Lord Krishna as a gesture of gratitude.
Read more about Govardhan Puja
Day 5 – Bhai Dooj
The last and final day is called the Bhai Dooj or Bhau Bij, is a festival that focuses on siblings and honours the brother-sister relationship. It is celebrated on the second day of the Shukla Paksha of the lunar calendar.
On this day sisters invite their brothers to join them for a feast of their favourite dishes. The sisters put a tilak (powder mark) on their brothers’ forehead and pray for their long lives and brothers in return bestow them with gifts. At the feast, special festive dishes like “basundi poori” are served. Basundi is sweet, extra-thick milk porridge, and “poori” indicates that fruits, nutmeg, and cardamon are added to it.
Close relatives and friends are also invited to join in the Bhav Bij celebrations and mark the end of the five-day long celebration of joy, lights and radiance.
|DHANTERAS||Nov. 2||Oct. 23||Nov. 10|
|NARAKA CHATURDASI||Nov. 3||Oct. 23||Nov. 11|
|DIWALI||Nov. 3||Oct. 24||Nov. 12|
|GOVARDHAN PUJA||Nov. 5||Oct. 25||Nov. 13|
|BHAI DOOJ||Nov. 6||Oct. 26||Nov. 14|