How to Celebrate Diwali: Sharing 5 Days of Joy

Published October 27, 2021
Diwali plate of sweets diyas money kumkum and haldi

Millions of people participate in Diwali, a five-day festival of light and joy celebrating the triumph of good over evil and light over dark. The festival is filled with worship and extravagant feasts. Make the most of your Diwali celebration by sharing traditional elements with friends and family.

Diwali: Five Days of Joy

Diwali is also known as the Festival of Lights. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists all celebrate Diwali in October or November. Diwali begins on the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Ashwin. Since the Hindu calendar differs from the Gregorian calendar used in the West, the start dates of the festival don't fall over the same five-day period of the Western calendar each year. Diwali is a festive occasion to celebrate life with family and friends while enjoying exquisite food, drinks, and gift exchanges.


diwali diya oil lamps

Dhanteras is the first day of Diwali. On this day, people begin by cleaning and purifying their homes. Then, they worship Goddess Lakshmi for good fortune by purchasing jewelry and utensils in silver, copper, and brass. Families also purify and decorate their houses by leaving rows of lamps (diyas) by their entryways and on balconies.

  • Host a get-together and incorporate candles, lanterns, and tea lights into your decor.
  • Purify, de-clutter, and deep clean your house to remove impurities before welcoming family and friends.
  • Shope for kitchen utensils or gold to help bring good fortune in the year to come.

Naraka Chaturdashi

woman lighting diyas during diwali

On the second day of Diwali, people celebrate the victory of Lord Krishna over the wicked demon king Narakasur. People visit family and friends to exchange gifts and sweets. Families neatly decorate their floors with rangolis--an intricate art form, typically created on the floor using sand, flower petals, rice flour, lentils, and beans.

  • Embrace the second day of Diwali by purchasing small gifts, such as mini dried fruit jars, boxes of chocolate, scented candles, or even jewelry to exchange with friends.
  • Gather with family and friends to make rangolis. Make sure you have materials on hand such as flower petals, sand, rice powder, and chalk.

Lakshmi Puja

box of Indian sweets

The third day is considered the main day of the Diwali celebration. Clay oil lamps, or diyas, are lit to worship the goddess Lakshmi. On this day, families dress up in brand new clothes to enjoy spectacular fireworks and an amazing feast, which includes main course dishes, savory snacks, such as samosas--triangle shaped pastries filled with vegetables, minced meat, peas and lentils. They also enjoy lots of mithai (sweet meats) including laddoos (mini balls made with chickpea flour, oil, sugar, nuts), and barfi (fudge squares made with condensed milk, sugar, and nuts).

  • Invite family and friends to celebrate the third day of Diwali at your house and encourage them to dress to impress in bright colorful clothes and jewelry. Bright outfits signify the light of Lakshmi.
  • Treat your guests to a charcuterie board filled with traditional Diwali snacks and sweets including samosas, laddoos, barfi, masala roasted cashews, batata vada, falafel, and other authentic Diwali snacks and sweets. You can serve refreshing lemonade (nimbu pani) or any other non-alcoholic drinks of your choice. Keep the menu plant-based for an authentic and intentional celebration.

Govardhan Puja

prize cow in India

It is the day when Lord Krishna defeated Indra by lifting the huge Govardhan Mountain. On this fourth day, a big vegetarian feast is prepared for Puja and a "mountain" of delicacies is offered in gratitude. It's also a day to worship cows. As a ritual, people decorate cows for the festival by painting their horns and writing on their bodies.

You don't necessarily need to create an "altar" or arrange several dishes in the form of a mountain, but you can prepare Diwali's traditional vegetarian dishes, Annakoot ki Sabzi, a mixed vegetable dish, typically prepared using 56 different ingredients.

Bhaiya Dooj

Indian couple Diwali tradition

The last day of Diwali is all about celebrating the brother and sister bond. It's tradition for brothers to visit and bring gifts to their sisters, who honor them with rituals for good fortune and good health.

Celebrate the last day of Diwali by spending quality time with your siblings. Consider inviting your brother or sister and relatives to play Teen Patti, which is one of the most popular games played on Diwali nights and associated with family gatherings. Playing Teen Patti during the Diwali festival brings wealth and progress in the coming year.

Celebrate Diwali With Friends and Family

Diwali falls in October or November depending on the moon's position. It's a beautiful festival focused on ritual, family, and the triumph of light over darkness. It's also the perfect excuse to gather and celebrate with the ones you love.

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How to Celebrate Diwali: Sharing 5 Days of Joy