Diwali – The Festival of Lights

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Written By Santana

Unveiling India's Treasures from the eyes of an insightful author


Diwali, also known as Deepawali, is the “festival of lights.” It is one of the most widely observed Hindu holidays. It is celebrated by people of all religions throughout India, particularly Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains.

It is associated with Jainism and the festivals of Tihar, Bandi Chhor Divas, Sohrai, Bandana, and Swati. Diwali celebrates the “victory of light over darkness,” “good over evil,” and “wisdom over ignorance.”

The festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartika and usually lasts five days between the middle of October and the middle of November. Throughout the country, people express warm greetings to one another and enjoy the celebration with great enthusiasm.

The celebration is frequently associated with Sita and Rama, Krishna, Kali, Vishnu, Durga, Shiva, Kubera, Hanuman, Yama, Yami, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman, among several other regional traditions. The celebration is frequently linked to Ganesha, the lord of knowledge and the destroyer of hurdles, and Lakshmi, the deity of fortune.

Furthermore, it recalls the day Ram, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshman returned to their kingdom in Ayodhya after spending 14 years in captivity battling the evil Ravan in Sri Lanka.

People clean up, make changes, and decorate their homes and places of business with rangolis and diyas. If your outdoor ac fan not spinning, consider repair to prevent further damage and ensure efficient cooling during hot weather. They also dress up and perform rituals to worship the goddess Lakhsmi on Diwali. Diwali is also a significant cultural occasion for the Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains.

This fantastic festival is celebrated for five days. The primary Festive traditions are conducted on the third day of the celebration. The standard practices of the event include burning Diyas and candles throughout the house, praying to goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha for health and wealth, and lighting fireworks.

Exchanging gifts is also a significant part of the Diwali celebration. Friends, relatives, and coworkers exchange Diwali gifts as a token of love and affection. People enjoy delicious feasts together, serving several unique desserts(mithai).

2. The mythology behind the Diwali celebration.

According to a legend, the event is linked to the Ramayana, a Hindu epic in which Rama, Sita, Lakshman, and Hanuman return to Ayodhya on this day after spending 14 years in exile.

Rama’s army of good defeated Ravana’s army of evil. After Rama destroyed Ravana, the villagers of Ayodhya had a little path with candles for his mighty arrival.

Another story holds that during the Dvapara Yuga period, Krishna, a Vishnu avatar, defeated the demon Narakasura,  king of Pragjyotishapura, near modern-day Assam, and rescued 16000 captive people. Following Krishna’s victory over Narakasura, Diwali symbolized good winning over evil. The day before Diwali, Naraka Chaturdasi is celebrated as the day Krishna killed Narakasura.

People also celebrate the Hindu goddess Lakshmi during Diwali. On the eve of Diwali, the goddess of prosperity, wealth, and fertility married Lord Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s most acknowledged gods.

Bengalis celebrate this day by worshipping Goddess Kali, the most powerful “shakti” god. This day holds special importance in Jain tradition since Mahavira attained the ultimate “nirvana” on this day. Diwali also marks the death anniversary of Dayanand Saraswati, the “father” of the Arya Samaj.

In several cultures, Diwali overlaps with harvest and new year festivals. Whatever Diwali mythology you follow, the day is always one of the most auspicious days of the year.

3. The Significance of Diwali celebration.

Every Diwali ceremony serves a purpose and has a history. Diwali symbolizes spiritual victory, good over bad. Diwali lights represent a time to destroy all our wicked thoughts and dreams, dismiss all evil forces, and give us a life full of happiness and goodwill.

People from all over the country celebrate Diwali, regardless of religion or caste. Throughout the event, people hug and laugh with one another. The celebration is held in a spirit of joy and purity.

This day signifies forgetting and forgiving; it is related to giving yourself and the world around you a fresh start. People celebrate their good fortune by presenting gifts to their friends, family, and work staff. The Diwali celebration sends a message to lighten our inner selves, drive out all the darkness and live a life of prosperity.

4. The origin of the festival of Diwali

It is impossible to say when the Deepawali festival was initiated. This festival is considered to have begun thousands of years ago as a celebration of “rituparva” in India, where agriculture is the backbone of the economy.

At this period, crops had already been harvested. People would not have to worry about food for the rest of the year. They showed their happiness by lighting numerous lamps and candles. This festival became associated with several historical events over time. There are various related tales in the Puranas.

Diwali is most likely a mash-up of harvest festivals from ancient India. In the Hindu calendar month of Kartika, the Skanda Kishore Purana refers to diyas (lamps) as various parts of the sun, describing it as the cosmic source of all life’s energy and light.

King Harsha mentions Deepawali as Dpapratipadotsava in the seventh-century Sanskrit play Nagananda when lights were lit and newlyweds were given gifts. Rajasekhara refers to Deepawali as Dipamalika in his 9th-century Kavyamimamsa and mentions the habit of cleaning homes, streets, and markets and decorating them with oil lamps at night.

According to the explorer and historian from Persia, Al Biruni, who wrote about India in the eleventh century, Hindus celebrated Deepawali on the day of the New Moon in the month of Kartika. Many tourists from other countries who were not Indians described Diwali as well. In the early 15th century, Niccol de’ Conti, a Venetian merchant and traveler visited India.

He wrote that in some celebrations, “they hang up within their temples, and on the outside of the roofs, a huge number of oil lamps… which are kept burning day and night,” he said in his book, and families would gather to feast and “clothe themselves in new clothing.”

Domingo Paes, a Portuguese traveler, recalled his 16th-century voyage to the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire, where people celebrated Dipavali by lighting lamps in their homes and temples. According to the Ramayana, Ayodhya only celebrated Diwali for two years.

Diwali was also noted in British colonial texts as a “great festival at night, in honor of Lakshmi, with lightings on trees and homes.”

5. Where is Diwali celebrated?

Although this festival is celebrated throughout the country, different regions of India have other festival names and rituals.

In Bengal, Diwali is celebrated at night as Kali Puja or Shyama Puja. Hibiscus garlands decorate Goddess Kali, who is worshipped in temples and homes. Sweets, lentils, grains, and fish are offered to the goddess as part of the festivities.

The night before Kali Puja or Diwali, on Bhoot Chaturdasi, 14 lamps, or diyas, are lit and placed in homes as part of a ritual to ward off evil spirits. Bengalis also celebrate Bhai Phonta, a large-scale Bhai Dooj event.

Diwali Sweets

In Varanasi, Diwali is called Dev Deepawali, or “Diwali of the Gods.” Diwali, which marks Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya, is a holiday celebrated in Uttar Pradesh with great enthusiasm and passion. According to devotees, the Gods and Goddesses descend to earth during this season to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganga. Priests offer prayers to the Ganga, and the ghats are decorated with lamps, diyas, and rangolis.

People in Odisha pray to their ancestors during Diwali. They summon their ancestors and pray for their blessings by burning jute sticks. The occasion is known as Kauriya Kathi. On Diwali, the Oriya people also worship Lord Ganesh, Goddess Kali, and Goddess Lakshmi.

Diwali celebrations in Maharashtra begin with the Vasu Bara ritual, which honors cows. On Dhanteras, the sage Dhanvantari, the ayurvedic physician of the gods, is honored. To end the Diwali festival, Maharashtrians worship the goddess Lakshmi and celebrate Bhau Beej, also known as Bhai Dooj in the North.

Diwali marks the end of the year for Gujaratis, and the day after Diwali is known as the Gujarati New Year, or Bestu Varas. Gujarat has five days of Diwali celebrations, including Vaag Baras, Dhanteras, Kali Chaudash, Diwali, Bestu Varas, and Bhai Bij. During the important festival of Dhanteras, many Gujarati women wear kajal made from Diya fires to protect their families from bad luck.

Diwali is celebrated in Goa to celebrate Lord Krishna’s killing of the monster Narkasur. Demon models are built and burned on the morning of Narakasura Chaturdashi, the day before Diwali. Many people in Goa and other parts of South India apply coconut oil to their bodies during Diwali to purify them of their sins.

In Punjab, Diwali and Bandi Chhor Diwas, the Sikh holiday is celebrated by decorating homes and gurudwaras, gift-giving, lighting fireworks, and eating delicious feasts. Punjabi Hindus celebrate Diwali to worship the goddess Lakshmi. Diwali celebrations also mark the beginning of winter in Punjab.

The second day of the festival is celebrated in Karnataka. The name of the day is Ashwija Krishna Chaturdashi. To begin the celebrations on this day, people take an oil bath and eat sweets. The day after Diwali, known as Bali Padyami, is also widely celebrated here. On this day, stories about King Bali are recited, and cow dung is used to build forts.

People in Tamil Nadu bathe in water and oil perfumed with betel leaves, fragrant pepper, and other items on Diwali morning. Before the feast and festivities begin, everyone must eat a tablespoon of the Deepawali Legiyam herbal mixture after the traditional oil bath routine.

The key ingredients in the mixture are coriander, pepper, cumin, ginger, cardamom, carom seeds, yashtimadhu, jaggery, and ghee. According to mythology, this mixture can aid in treating any stomach issues that may arise due to overeating all of the heavy dishes during this time.

On Diwali, people in Andhra Pradesh honor Lord Sathyabama (Lord Krishna) for overcoming the wicked Narakasura. They begin the festivities by seeking the blessing of Satyabhama’s clay idols.

Diwali is also frequently celebrated in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, and Fiji. Diwali is a national holiday in some countries.

Although Bali is famed for its Diwali celebrations, Indonesia does not have a huge Indian community. The majority of the population is descended from Indians and practices Indian customs.

Indians constitute a significant proportion of Singapore. People travel to Hindu temples to pray. Singapore’s Serangoon Road is well-known for its Diwali celebrations. The passage is decorated with flowers and garlands. It also features lighted diyas.

6. When and how is Diwali celebrated?

Every year, the five-day Diwali festival occurs in the Hindu month of Kartika. Although the exact dates are determined by the moon’s position each year, it usually falls between October and November.

Diwali is celebrated yearly on the Amavasya (or new moon), which falls on the fifteenth day of Kartika month, according to the ancient calendar.

On November 12th 2023 Diwali will be celebrated (Sunday). Diwali is a popular celebration in the Indian subcontinent and is a national holiday throughout the country.

  • The first day – Diwali, begins with Dhanteras, which celebrates the start of a new year.
  • The second day – is Naraka Chaturdasi, which celebrates Lord Krishna’s defeat of the demon Narakasura.
  • The third day – is Amavasya, which honors Devi Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and abundance.
  • On the fourth day – Govardhan Puja rituals are done. The festival’s last day is Bhai Dooj, when sisters honor their brothers and pray for their long lives and well-being.

South Indians celebrate Diwali by decorating their homes with garlands and cattle dung to welcome their old King Mahabali. There is also a Govardhan Pujan.

Shyama puja, which honors and worships Goddess Kali, is practiced throughout the state of Bengal and some other parts of Eastern India.

In Maharashtra, Diwali begins with the worship of cattle and their babies. Vasu Baras is the name given to this event.

Large-scale Diwali fairs are held all around the country. These fairs serve as retail centers and generally include entertainment and performing acts.

7. Diwali rituals and events.


Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali celebration. The Dhanteras Festival, also known as Dhanwantari Triodasi, takes place on the lucky thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Kartika. In the word “Dhanteras,” the letter “Dhan” symbolizes wealth. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during Dhanteras to provide wealth and abundance. Dhan Teras is thus far more critical in the corporate sphere.

Houses and business places are repaired, cleaned, and decorated. Entrances are decorated with lovely traditional themes of multicolored Rangoli designs to invite the Goddess of abundance and wellbeing. Lwellbeingtsteps are painted across the homes with rice flour and vermilion powder to signal her long-awaited arrival. Candles are kept burning all night.

On Dhanteras, Hindus believe purchasing gold, silver, or at least two new utensils is auspicious. A new “Dhan” or other valuable item is considered a lucky symbol. Evenings are spent doing “Laxmi-Puja,” which includes lighting small clay figurines to ward off evil spirits. Bhakti songs, or bhajans, are sung in praise of Goddess Lakshmi. The Devi is offered with “Naivedya,” a  traditional Maharashtrian dessert in which dry coriander seeds are delicately mashed with jaggery.

Rural farmers decorate and worship their cattle because they serve as their primary source of income. Also, cows are believed to be representations of the goddess Lakshmi.


The day before Diwali is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali, also known as Narak Chaturdasi.

On the morning after Choti Diwali, the women of the house decorate the door and yard with beautiful, multicolored rangoli. Diwali rangolis have a unique feature: tiny footsteps made of rice paste. In Hindu families, Chhoti Diwali celebrations involve an evening ceremonial dedication to Lord Rama and Goddess Lakshmi. Aarti is done, and melodies are sung in the divine’s honor.

Satyabhama defeated Narakasur on this auspicious evening. Bhudevi, Narakasura’s mother, requested that his death should be celebrated rather than mourned. Since then, people have celebrated Choti Diwali with joyous celebrations, loads of fun and games, and fireworks.

South India celebrates the festival in an unusual fashion. Before the sun rises, people mix a paste of Kumkum and oil representing blood and apply it on their foreheads after breaking a bitter fruit representing the fractured head of the demon King Krishna. They then take an oil bath with a sandalwood paste.

Throughout the bathing ritual, the children light fireworks and crackers. In Maharashtra, early morning traditional baths with oil and “Uptan” (paste) made of gram flour and perfumed powders are also a “must.” Puffed rice with curd or steaming vermicelli with milk and sugar is the next course.

Diwali Crackers


The third day of Diwali is entirely dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lakshmi. On the same day, the sun begins its second wave and moves into Libra, represented by the balances or scales. As a result, this Libran form is supposed to represent closing and leveling the accounting books. Even if this date falls on an Amavasya night, it is still considered the most auspicious.

Lakshmi Puja is held on the night of Amavasya. A holy dedication and a happy melody of bells and drums are rising from the temples. A burst of lighting falls from heaven as golden-footed Devi Lakshmi lands on the earth in all her Heavenly glory amid the singing of Vedic mantras.

A brilliant glow of abundance illuminates the glorious palaces of the wealthy and the humble houses of the underprivileged. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Lakshmi walks across the beautiful fields and stays in the byways, showering her blessings for abundance and fortune on man.

The main Diwali celebration in Northern and Western India is Lakshmi Pooja or the worship of the goddess of riches. It is essential to keep your home clean and neat during Diwali. Goddess Lakshmi values cleanliness; thus, she will begin by visiting the cleanest house. This is also the reasoning behind the haldi and kumkum offerings made in honor of this day. Candles are lit at dusk to greet the deity. These are said to light Her path.

During the Lakshmi Puja, five gods are worshipped together: the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in three different forms: Mahakali, Mahasaraswati (the deity of reading and learning), and Mahalakshmi (the deity of financial wealth and success). Every auspicious act begins with the Vighnaharta or Lord Ganesha’s worship. Kuber (the deity’s treasurer) is also honored.


Kartika Shuddh Padwa is the day after Amavasya, and it is at this time King Bali will rise from Patal Lok and walk around in the Bhulok with the grace of Lord Vishnu. It is also known as “Bali Padyami.” On this day, King Vikramaditya was also crowned, and Vikaram-Samvat began.

Gudi Padwa symbolizes the wife and husband’s love for one another. On this day, newlywed daughters and their spouses are welcomed with special lunches and presents. In the past, brothers traveled to pick up their sisters from their in-laws’ houses on this crucial day.


Govardhan-Puja is also performed in the North on this day. People from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar build cow dung hillocks and decorate them with flowers before worshipping Govardhan in Braj, near Mathura. In honor of Krishna’s ascent of Mount Govardhan.

According to Vishnu-Puran, at the end of each monsoon season, the people of Gokul would have a celebration and honor Lord Indra. However, the young Krishna forbade them from worshipping Lord Indra for one year. Lord Indra got angry and threatened to drown the village of Gokul.

People feared Indra’s anger. But Krishna promised them that nothing bad would happen. He lifted Mount Govardhan with his tiny finger, providing rain shelter for humans and animals. As a result, he gained the nickname Govardhandhari. Indra then recognized Krishna’s supremacy.

This day is also known as Annakoot, which means “mountain of food” in Hebrew. Pious people sit up all night preparing 56 or 108 meals for the bhog (food offering to Krishna). At temples, particularly in Mathura and Nathdwara, the goddesses are bathed in milk and decorated with new clothes and jewelry made of magnificent diamonds, pearls, rubies, and other precious stones.

Following the prayers and devotion, large varieties of traditional sweets are ceremoniously laid in front of the idols as “Bhog,” and devotees approach the Mountain of Food and collect Prasad from it.


Bhaiya Dooj, also known as Bhai Dooj, is the fifth and final day of the Diwali celebration. The fact that this festival takes place on the second day after the new moon—the Dooj day—gives it the name “Bhai dooj.” It is also a day to pray for the brother, also known as “bhayya or bhai,” to give them a long and healthy life. According to Hindu traditions, Yamaraj, the God of Death, visited his sister’s home after a long separation. Since she was thrilled to see him, his sister, Yami, welcomed him with a holy tilak mark on his forehead for his wellbeing.

Yami and Yamraj then ate together. He was so pleased with how his sister treated him that he announced that if a sister applied a tilak to her brother’s forehead every year on Dooj Day, no one could harm her brother. This custom has been followed until now. Sisters perform puja for their brothers’ safety and well-being. Well-being brothers express their love for their sisters by giving them gifts.

According to another story, after defeating the asura king Narakasur, Lord Krishna paid a visit to his sister Subhadra. Subhadra met him with the light and placed a tilak of her sisterly protection between his brow.

According to another story, when Bhagawan Mahavir gained nirvana, Raja Nandivardhan was heartbroken and missed his brother. Then his sister Sudarshana consoled him. Women have hence been honored on this day.

Diwali would be incomplete without Bhai dooj. It is known as “Bhaiyya-Duj” in Hindi, “Bhav—Bij” in Marathi, “Bhai Fota” in Bengal, and “Bhai-Tika” in Nepal.

The Bhai Dooj celebration strengthens the bond between brothers and sisters. On this day, brothers and sisters exchange gifts, share food, and shower their blessings on one another.

8. When is Diwali 2023?

The Diwali celebrations in 2023 begin on Friday , November 10th with Dhanteras and ends on Wednesday, November 15th with Bhai Dooj. Diwali is celebrated on the day of Lakshmi Puja, on Sunday, November 12th which is the most auspicious day of the Diwali festival.

9. Conclusion

Diwali is an opportunity to pause and be grateful for what we have amid today’s hectic lifestyle, make cherished memories with family and friends, laugh, and appreciate all life has to give. Deepawali has been observed since the dawn of time, despite significant changes that have occurred over time. Traditions and customs have not altered even though times have changed dramatically. The Diwali holiday season comes with all of its joy and enthusiasm every year.

Even if electric lights have replaced clay lamps and the dress code has changed, performing puja has been a well-preserved tradition for many years. People get up early to perform traditional pujas. Families gather and crackers are lit to welcome the lovely evening while dressed in stunning silks and shining gold jewelry.

It’s time to greet friends and family after some cracker-bursting. People arrive at the homes of their loved ones, along with sweet and savory food as gifts., Diwali is a monumental occasion. It is a time for giving and sharing, reuniting with the people who matter and enjoying the tiny joys we sometimes overlook throughout the year.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Diwali, and why is it celebrated?

One of the most well-known festivals in India is the five-day festival of lights, which begins on Thursday and is when devotees offer prayers to the Hindu goddess of riches. The five-day event honors light’s triumph over darkness. Worldwide, Hindus are celebrating Diwali with great zeal and enthusiasm.

What is done in Diwali preparations?

Festive preparations for Diwali include cleaning and decorating houses, lighting candles, setting off fireworks, and feasting on sweet delicacies.

What should we do on Diwali?

During Diwali, we must spend time with our family, friends, and loved ones. People frequently travel to see their relatives spend time with them, and celebrate the occasion. Arrangements for excellent feasts are made, and happiness is spread by donating.

What should not be done on Diwali?

Avoid choosing leather products, silverware, and crackers as presents for friends and family. Avoid gambling whenever possible. On Diwali, refrain from drinking and eating non-vegetarian food. Don’t leave the pooja area unattended to ensure that the diya stays lighted throughout the night.

What is a nice gift for Diwali?

Traditional selections for Diwali gifts include Indian sweets like laddus, jalebis, and burfis, but other sweets are fine. Chocolates also serve as a good option.

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