Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. It is celebrated for 5 days across India and southern Asia, as well as in many other places around the world. It is biggest Hindu festival and most important Hindu holiday of the year. During Diwali, people perform cleansing rituals, decorate their homes, gather for special feasts, exchange gifts and light fireworks. Read on to learn more about how to celebrate the 5 days of Diwali.
Diwali symbolises the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance." Light is a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated.
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Day 1: Dhanteras
On the first day of Diwali, called Dhanteras, Hindus celebrate the day that Dhanvantari, the god of good health and medicine, emerged from the ocean with the gift of Ayurveda - the knowledge of life. They also celebrate the day that Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, also came out of the ocean with a pot of gold.
Celebrating - Leading up to this day, houses are cleaned and decorated. The diyas (lamps) are lit in every room of the home all night long so that dark cannot enter.
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Day 2: Narak Chaturdasi
On the second day, Hindus remember Krishna's (god of compassion) victory over Narakasura, who had aligned himself with a demon causing him to turn evil.
Celebrating - Fireworks are set off and many people take a ritual bath before sunrise, to rest and prepare for the continuing celebrations.
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Day 3: Lakshmi Pujia
The third day is the main day of Diwali festivities, and it falls on the night of the new moon. Prayers are dedicated to Lakshmi and Ganesha, the god of wisdom and remover of obstacles. Lakshmi is believed to roam the land at night and visit the cleanest house first.
Celebrating - People clean their houses and themselves, dress in their best clothes and pray. Diyas are placed in all the house's windows to welcome the goddess.
Day 4: Padwa
The fourth day commemorates when Krishna lifted the hills to protect villagers from torrential rains and flooding.
Celebrating - A large feast is prepared to express their gratitude to the gods.
Day 5: Bhai Duj
The fifth day of Diwali is dedicated to sisters. According to legend, Yama Raj, the god of death, visited his sister on this day. He gave his sister a blessing which would be distributed to all those who visited her on that day, freeing them from their sins.
Celebrating - Prayers are spoken to wish for long life and prosperity.