India is a land of great diversity. India’s languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs differ from place to place within the country and hence even the celebrations of Diwali vary in different parts of India.
However the basic theme of Diwali is universal, ie, the triumph of Good over Evil, the Darkness paving way for Light and Ignorance leading to Knowledge.
In some places Diwali is celebrated for a period of five days while at some other places the celebrations are extended. In some places Diwali is celebrated religiously while in some places it is more to do with joy and excitement.
Anyways, Diwali is observed by Hindus, Sikhs & Jains, each community celebrating Diwali for different reasons. Apart from many Muslims and Christians also celebrate Diwali to showcase the spirit of unity in India smong people of different religions.
Days Before Diwali :
One thing that is common in all parts of India is that few days before Diwali, people start decorating their homes, preparing sweets, light up their homes with colorful lights, etc. People also buy new clothes and Jewelry.
Diwali is mainly celebrated for a period of five days from Dhanteras to Bhaidooj, but in some parts of the country the rituals of Diwali start off two days before Danteras, ie on Agyaras.
Agyaras : The Patel and the Vaishnav communities in Gujarat begin their Diwali celebrations on the 11th day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin .i.e, two days before Dhanteras. On this day they start preparing snacks, sweets and savories for the festival of Diwali.
Wagh Baras : The day before Dhanteras, i.e., the 12th Day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin. The day is also known as Vasu Baras and Govasta Dwadashi. This day signifies the importance of women in the society. Women in the house are worshiped and they buy new clothes and jewelry. On this day cow and calf are also worshipped.
Five Days of Diwali :
First Day of Diwali –
In most parts of the country, the first day of Diwali is widely known as Dhanteras. This day is celebrated to revere Dhanavantri, the physician of the gods, and Goddess Laxmi.
In different parts of India, Dhanteras is known by various other names like – Dhanatrayodashi, Dhan Teyras, Yamadeepdaan, Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi, etc.
Dhanatrayodashi : In some parts of India the day is known as Dhantrayodashi and on this day a special ritual is accomplished which is called Deepdaan. In this ritual lamps are lit for every individual in the family and ancestors and they are floated in a river or pond.
Yamadeepdaan : In Southern India, the festival of Dhanteras is also known as Yamadeepdaan where in Diyas (lamps) are lit all night which are dedicated to Yam or Yamraj, the god of death. This day is associated with the legend of 16 year old son of King Hima was doomed to die but the dedication of his young wife saved the boy from Yam.
Dhan Teyras : In many parts of the country On Dhan Teyras, Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is worshipped. People keep a fast and worship goddess Lakshmi in evening and then after the puja lit earthen lamp on the main entrance of the house.
Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi / Dhantheran : In few South Indian States this festival is known as Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi or Dhantheran. This day is marked by buying new utensils and silver/gold items.
Second Day of Diwali –
In every Indian household, the second day is celebrated with the lighting of 5-7 deep (Diyas) on the door and corners. It is Diwali on a smaller scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst.
In different parts of India, this day is known by various other names like – Choti Diwali, Narak Chaturdashi, Roop Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas, Kali Puja, etc.
Choti Diwali : In most of the North Indian States, the day is known as ‘Choti Diwali’ as on this day the celebrations are bit smaller as compared to the next day which is actual Diwali day. In comparison to the Diwali day, on this day fewer lights lit and fewer crackers are burst.
Narak Chaturdashi : In all South Indian states, the day is celebrated as Narak Chaturdashi. On this day God Yama is worshiped to get over the fear of demon Narakasura. People make an effigy of Narakasura, and burn it. Later, they take bath and burst crackers. After this a ritual named Yamatarpan is performed i.e., making offering to Lord Yama to overcome untimely death. According to legends on this day Lord Krishna killed Narakasura.
Roop Chaturdashi : In some of the north Indian States, the second day of Diwali is also known as Roop Chaturdashi. On this day, Hindus takes a ritual bath and perform meditation for gain of beauty and magnetism.
Kali Chaudas : In many states, this day is celebrated as Kali Chaudas and on this day, a head wash and application of kajal in the eyes is believed to keep away the kali nazar (evil eye).
Mahanisha / Kali Puja: In Bengal this day is celebrated as Mahanisha. It is believed that Maha Kali, appeared on this day, accompanied by 64,000 yoginis.
Divvela Panduga / Divili Panduga : In Andhra Pradesh the day is celebrated as Divvela Panduga or Divili Panduga. The typical celebrations of this day include the legend of Narakaasura, decoration of house by rangolis, oil lamps and celebration with fire crakers.
Third Day of Diwali –
The third day of the five day festival is the actual Diwali day, the most important and significant day. The name Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali.
In different parts of the country, this day is known by various other names like – Lakshmi Pujan, Chopda Pooja, Mahavir Nirvan Diwas, Sukhsuptika, Kaumudi Mahostavam, Badhausar, Balindra Pooja, Thalai Deepavali, Sharda Pujan, Bandi Chhor Diwas, etc.
Lakshmi Pujan : The festival of Diwali is synonymous with Lakshmi Pujan. On this day, everybody cleans and decorates their homes and worships Goddess Lakshmi to seek her blessings. People also lit diya’s (lamps) for all night long to welcome goddess Lakshmi. In many parts of the country on this day married women do “aarti” of their husbands and pray for his long life.
Chopda Pujan : Diwali also represents the start of a new business year so all businesses close their accounts and present them to Lakshmi and Ganesh during the Chopda Pujan i.e., the ritualistic worship of Account Books. This ritual is mainly performed by Business communities like the Gujarati’s and Marwadi’s. In some states Chopda Pujan is known as Sharda Pujan.
Mahavir Nirvan Diwas : For Jains, Diwali holds a special significance. On this day of Lord Mahavira, the 24th and the last Jain Tirthankar of this era, attained Nirvana or Moksh at Pavapuri in Bihar. On this day Jain community worships Lord Mahavira, sacred scriptures are recited and homes and temples are illuminated.
Bandi Chhor Diwas: Sikh community celebrates Diwali as Bandi Chhor Divas. On this day in the year 1619, the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Ji was released alonh with 52 Hindu kings out of prison.
Sukhsuptika : Kashmiri Pandit celebrate the Diwali day as Sukhsuptika, which literally means sleep with happiness.
Kaumudi Mahotsav : In some part of Andhra Pradesh the festival of Diwali is celebrated in conjunction with Kaumudi Mahotsav which is basically a flower festival.
Badhausar : In the state of Gujarat, Diwali is also known as Badhausar. On this day, Goddess Lakshmi is believed to visit the homes that are well lit and clean. So, families decorate their houses with lights, diya’s, flowers and rangoli’s.
Balindra Pooja: In some south Indian states, Diwali is also known as Balindra Pooja. On this day people perform a pooja in which oil is offered to Lord Krishna.
Thalai Deepavali: In Tamil Nadu, the first Diwali of the newly wed couple is known as Thalai Deepavali.
Fourth Day of Diwali –
The fourth day of Diwali falls on the first day of the Hindu Lunar New Year. For most of the Hindu’s it is new year while for other the day has some other legnds and rituals.
In different parts of the country, this day is known by various other names like – Goverdhan Puja, Bestuvarsh, Varsha Pratipada, Annakoot, Bali Padyam / Bali Pratipada, Muharat Pujan, etc.
Govardhan Puja : Govardhan Puja is the day that commemorates the Victory of Lord Krishna over Indra On this day people worship Lord Krishna and Govardhan Parbat or Mount Govardhan, near Mathura. Govardhan Puja is celebrated mainly in North Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Bestuvarsh : People of Western India especially Gujarat and Rajasthan celebrate the day as the New year. They call the day as Nutan Varsh or Bestu Varsh and they celebrate the day by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewelery and visiting family members.
Varsha Pratipada / Pratipad Padwa : In some parts of the country the day is known as Varsha Pratipada or Pratipad Padwa that marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat calendar was started from this day.
Annakoot : In some parts of western and northern India people celebrate the day as Annakoot. The day celebrates the episode in Sri Krishna’s childhood, in which he gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra.
Bali Padyam / Bali Pratipada : In Karnataka and other south Indian states, the fourth day is celebrated as Bali Paadyami or Bali Pratipada, the day that commemorates the annual visit of demon king Bali to his subjects on Earth.
Muharat Pujan : On the day all business establishments and families perform muharat pujan or veneration of their account books.
Fifth Day of Diwali –
The fifth and the last day of Diwali festival is widely known as Bhai Dooj or Bhatri Ditya, and is dedicated to the sacred bond shared between brothers and sisters.
This big family day has various regional names like – Bhai Phota, Bhaubeej / Bhav-Bij, Bhai Tika, Yamadwitheya / Bhathru Dwithiya, Bhatri Ditya, Bhathru Dwithiya, etc.
Bhai Phota : In Bengal this day is called Bhai Phota. On this day, sisters keep a fast for their brothers and invite them to their homes and felicitate them.
Bhaubeej / Bhav Bij : In Maharashtra, the Marathi speaking community calls the day as Bhaubeej or Bhav Bij and the celebrations of the day are similar to that taking place in other parts of the country.
Bhai Tika : In Nepal the day is celebrated as Bhai Tika. On this day sister pray to Yamraja for her brother’s long life and prosperity and performs a tika ceremony by applying tilak on brothers forehead and then performing his aarti.
Yamadwitheya / Bhathru Dwithiya : As the legend goes Yamraj, the God of Death visited his sister Yamuna on this particular day. That is why this day of Bhayyaduj is also known by the name of “Yama-Dwitiya” or Bhathru Dwithiya. The celebrations of the day are same as that followed in other parts of the country.
Bhatri Ditya : Bhatri Ditya is a special occasion among brothers and sisters and is observed as a symbol of love and affection.
Bhathru Dwithiya : Bhathru Dwithiya is a significant Hindu festival that lay utmost importance to the love shared between a brother and his sister. Various rituals and customs are followed while celebrating Bhathru Dwithiya.
Gorehabba : This is a unique festival celebrated by a remote village of Karnataka. Gorehabba fills joy and enthusiasm in people’s life. On this day the villagers start playing with the cow dung and there are also a few interesting rituals that are done.
Diwali Related Festival :
Kojagara : The full moon day of Ashwin is called the Kojagari Purnima. On this day people keep awake till late at nights be observing fasts. This ceremony owes its origin to the Kojagari Purnima Vrat performed on this night to please to the Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Indra. The day is celebrated almost 15 days prior to the Diwali day.
Labh Pancham : In some states like Gujarat and Rajasthan the celebrations of Diwali extent to this day. The day is also known as Laakheni Panchmi and Saubhaagya Panchmi.
Tulsi Vivah: Tulsi Vivah is the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil) to the Hindu God Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna.
Karthigai Deepam : Karthikai Deepam is celebrated specially by Tamils Hindu’s and Telugu Hindu’s. The festival is observed in every home and every temple, and falls in the month of Kārttikai (mid-November to mid-December) as per Tamil calendar. Houses and streets are lit up with rows of oil lamps (Deepam) in the evening of the festival day. The day is also known as Tamil Diwali.