India is famous for its colour, culture and festivals. As the end of the year nears, the beloved festival of Diwali approaches. Also known as Deepavali, this event is spread over five days with the main day held on the darkest night of the Hindu calendar (the new moon). This usually falls towards the end of October or beginning of November. Known as the festival of lights, Diwali celebrates light overcoming darkness, and good prevailing over evil.
Diwali is the most widely celebrated and popular festival in India, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. Always a breathtaking sight, the holiday derives its name from the words ‘deepa’ (meaning clay lamps) and ‘avali’ (meaning row).
There are many Diwali stories, however the main legend associated with the festivity is the one of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman returning to their homeland. After defeating the demon king Ravana, the three were able to return after 14 years in exile. It is said that the citizens were so excited for their return that they lit lamps to welcome them home.
Diwali can also be recognized as the day Lord Krishna defeated Narakasura, the demon king. One of the major themes of Diwali however, is simply about gathering with friends and family, celebrating the light and hope in the world and exchanging gifts.
Celebrated across five days, each day of Diwali has special significance. The first day, Dhanteras, marks the beginning of this special festival. Beginning on the 13the day of the lunar calendar, this is a day of cleaning and purchasing personal items, in particular items of gold and silver, as well as kitchen utensils. These utensils will come in handy, as this day is also spent cooking in preparation for the main day.
On the second day, Choti Diwali, (also known as Kalichaudas or Naraka Chaturdashi), prayers are offered, relatives are visited and preparations are made for the main event- the third day.
Lakshmi Puja, also just known as Diwali, is the main day of celebration. On this day, Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped, and Hindus seek blessings for the coming year. As the triumph of light over darkness is celebrated, diyas (lamps) and candles are lit, fireworks are set off, and temples are visited.
Balipratipada, is the fourth day and is celebrated across India in many ways. The day commemorates Krishna’s defeat of Indra, king of the gods, and in northern states is known as Govardhan Puja or Vishwakarma. It is another day of exchanging gifts, of engaging in pujas (worship rituals) and also marks the beginning of the Hindu new year.
The final day of Diwali is Bhai Dooj, celebrating the bonds between siblings. According to one legend, it is said that on this day Lord Krishna met his sister and she warmly received him with baked sweets and flowers. Another tells a similar story, but with Yama, the God of Death and his sister Yamuna. On this day, families visit each other and enjoy time spent together.
Escorted Diwali Itinerary 2024
This year, the India Tours and Travel Specialists join in on the festivities! For those looking to discover India and travel through this rich country at this unique time, join Sean Fernandes’ escorted tour. Over 15 exciting days, visit the alluring Golden Triangle and entrancing Rajasthan, immersing yourself in a colourful culture with centuries worth of history to discover.
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