Diwali, the festival of lights, joy and radiance is spread over a period of five days. Being one of the most important festivals of India, Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor by all Indians in India and all over the world. Diwali is one festival that has always united cultures, customs and religions in the flow of its celebrations. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm, joy, devotion, excitement, emotion not only in India but in most parts of the world.
There are age old customs, traditions and rituals associated with it, that have still maintained their significance in the hearts of people. The five days of Diwali – Dhanteras, Choti Diwali, Diwali, Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj, are all celebrated differently with each day having its own significance and set of rituals and customs. The celebration of Diwali includes wearing new clothes, preparation of delicacies, offering prayers, exchange of gifts, decorating houses and localities, organizing get-together and many attractions that brings the entire family together. The five days, with their respective rituals are:
Day 1 – DhanterasThe Diwali festivities begin with Dhanteras as the first day of celebrations. Also known as, Dhanvantari Trayodashi or Dhanatrayodashi, this festival is celebrated for wealth and prosperity. “Dhan” translates to wealth in Hindi and “Teras” means the 13th day, which implies that the “festival of wealth” is celebrated on the 13th day of the Krishna Paksh (dark fortnight) of the month of Ashwin.
On this day new utensils and silver ware is brought to the house as a symbol of wealth and a sign of good luck. The lord of wealth, Dhanvantri and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped for success, good health and wealth. Click here to read more about celebrations, puja, customs and legends of Dhanteras.
Day 2 – Choti DiwaliThe second day of the Diwali is Choti Diwali. On this day, houses are thoroughly cleaned for the next day. Idols of Lakshmi and Ganesh Ji are bought and set up in the temples or mandir at people’s homes and offices.
Houses, shops, offices are all decorated with lights and lamps in preparation for the next day. There is a tradition to play cards with family and friends and people usually host card parties at their houses and invite friends and relatives for get-together on this day.
As Diwali is a holiday in India, most offices and workplaces perform a Lakshmi Puja on Chhoti Diwali to celebrate with colleagues, employers and employees. The second day of the five-day celebrations is celebrated as Narkachaturdashi in South India and holds more significance than the third and the main day of Diwali.
Click here to read more on the puja vidhi, celebrations and legend of Choti Diwali.
Day 3 – DiwaliThe next day, or third day is the main day of Diwali. Many people also refer to it as Badi Diwali. It falls on Amavasya or the new moon day in the month of Kartik. Although Puja is performed on all the days of Diwali, this is the main day of the Puja. Goddess Lakshmi, along with Lord Ganesh are worshipped for prosperity, wealth and good health. Diwali is celebrated to honor the triumph of good over evil.
Rangoli and Paduka (footsteps) are made in front of houses and temples to welcome Lakshmi Ji. Goddess Kali is also worshipped in a few regions of India. Houses are lit up and decorated with diya(clay lamps), lights and candles, firecrackers are burst, people visit friends and relatives, host parties and exchange gifts on Deepavali.
Click here to read about Diwali - legends, customs, puja, decorations, etc.
Day 4 – Govardhan PujaThe festivities continue with Govardhan Puja on the fourth day of Diwali. This festival is dedicated to Lord Krishna. There is a legend that says that Lord Krishna lifted the entire Govardhan Mountain over a town as an umbrella to protect its people from excessive rain and the wrath of Lord Indra – the Rain God.
Govardhan Puja is also known as Annakoot, Temples are decorated and idols of deities are bathed in milk and adorned with shining garments and ornaments. This day is a cause for big celebrations, especially in Mathura and Nathadwara.
The fourth day is also known as Padwa and Bestavarsh in some regions. It is believed that Vikramaditya was crowned on this day.
This day marks the beginning of the new financial for the business class of India. Account books are worshipped and it is considered an auspicious day for new investments and business ventures. Click here to read about the rituals, customs, legends and celebrations of Govardhan Puja.
Day 5 – Bhai Dooj
The five days of Diwali, finally concludes with Bhai Dooj, on the fifth and the last day of festivities. It falls two days after Diwali, on the second day of the Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) of the month of Kartik.This day is dedicated to brothers and sisters. Its similar to Rakhsha Bandhan, in the sense that this festival honors the bond between a brother and a sister.
According to the legend, Yam – the God of Death visited his sister Yamuna on this day, and they spent time together and she put tilak (an auspicious red mark) on his forehead and exchanged gifts as a token of love. After he left, Yam announced that any brother, who has the privilege of a red tika on their foreheads put by their sister on this day, shall experience good health and fortune. Hence, this day came to be celebrated as Bhai Dooj.
Brothers visit sisters and vice-versa and a tilak ceremony is performed and gifts are exchanged as a token of love between the siblings. Bhai Dooj is also known as Bhai Tika, Bhaiya Duj, Bhai Fota and Bhaubeej in various regions of India. Click here to read more about the customs, legends and celebrations of Bhai Dooj.
With Bhai Dooj, comes the end of the five days of festivities, high-spirited celebrations and the merriment of Diwali.