Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness which is why Diwali is also known as the festival of lights. People worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha on this day as they are believed to bring good luck, prosperity and wealth.
Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). is the hero of the story of Diwali, rescuing the kidnapped Sita from her captor, the evil Ravana. In the story of Diwali, Diyas (small lamps made of clay with Ghee or oil used as the fuel and cotton wool as the wick) are used to light the way for Rama-Chandra and Sita’s return home.
How do people celebrate Diwali?
- Clean your house on or before the first day of Diwali
- Draw footprints to scatter through your home on the first day
- Shop for new clothes, jewellery, and utensils
- Decorate your home and doorways with rangoli (a pattern created on the floor using coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand or flower petals)
- Place Diyas and candles around your home, especially in the doorways.
What foods do you eat at Diwali?
Some sweets eaten include Kheer, Gulab Jamun and Shankarpale. There are also several savoury dishes eaten. Diwali cuisine is mainly a vegetarian course. Some savoury dishes include Dahi-Bhalle, Karanji, Samosas, Pakoray, Mathiyaa, Ghathiya and Aloo Tikki.
Day 1 – Dhanteras
Dhanteras marks the beginning of the five-day long Diwali festival. On Dhanteras, people traditionally purchase some gold or silver or at least one or two utensils. It is believed that purchasing some form of precious metal is a sign of good luck.
Day 2 – Narak Chaturdasi
Narak Chaturdasi marks the second day of Diwali. This day is also known as Choti Diwali. Traditionally, on this day, before sunrise people take an oil bath with Ubtan (a powdered mix of Ayurvedic herbs and natural ingredients).
Day 3 – Lakshmi Puja
Lakshmi Puja is the main day of Diwali celebration and the entire focus is on the goddess Lakshmi Puja. On this day people keep the house spotlessly clean and pure to welcome Lakshmi. Diyas (lamps) are lit in the evening and Lakshmi Puja is performed in every household. People also distribute sweets and gifts among friends and family.
Day 4 – Govardhan Puja
On the fourth day of Diwali, Govardhan Puja is performed. Also known as Padwa, it marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat – the historical Hindu calendar used on the Indian subcontinent and the official calendar of Nepal – started from this day. In southern India Gudhi Padwa is celebrated, which is a symbol of love between husband and wife.
In northern Indian states, Govardhan Puja is celebrated in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Lord Krishna.
Day 5 – Bhaj Dooj
Bhaj Dooj is the final day of Diwali when sisters pray for the long life of brothers. Brothers in return give gifts to their sisters as a token of love.