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Diwali, the ancient Indian festival, has been celebrated for hundreds of years in various parts of India with great enthusiasm and fun. With many religious significances associated with the festival, there are various ways of celebrating

this festival in different regions of India. In most parts of India, Diwali is celebrated for five days;

  • First Day, Dhanteras: Worshipping of Lord Yama and buyingof metal objects.
  • Second Day, Choti Diwali, Roop Chaturdashi, NarakChaturdasi.
  • Third Day, Diwali: Laxmi and Ganesh Pujan is done on this day.
  • Fourth Day: On this day, Govardhan puja is performed.
  • Fifth Day: Also known as Bhai Dooj or Bhai Tika and is dedicated to brothers and sisters. On this day sisters pray for their brothers’ long life.

In Northern India, the religious significance of Diwali is associated with the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after 14 years of exile. Since it was a new moon day in the month of Kartik season, it was dark all around. So, to welcome their homecoming, the people of Ayodhya lighted the entire kingdom with diyas and fireworks and celebrated the occasion with great fun and bursting of crackers. Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya was also associated with the significance of the victory of good over evil. The tradition continues even today in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, and neighboring areas. In Eastern India, the basic rituals remain the same, which includes the lighting of lamps, candles, diyas, along with bursting of crackers. In fact, some people keep the doors of their houses open so that Goddess Lakshmi can enter. Houses are brightly lit because of the belief that Goddess Lakshmi does not enter a house which is dark.

In Southern India, Naraka Chaturdashi is the main day of the Diwali celebrations. One day before the main day, the oven is cleaned, and then it is smeared with lime. Religious symbols are drawn on the oven, which is filled with water and then is used on the main day for the oil bath. People wash their homes and decorate them with kolam designs, which are similar to rangolis in Northern India. Bursting of firecrackers and wearing new apparels are part of the celebrations. In fact, crackers and new clothes are kept on a plate to be used on Diwali. On the morning of Diwali or Naraka Chaturdashi, the celebrations begin with an oil bath before sunrise. Afterward, sweets are eaten and new clothes are worn.

In New York, Guyana and the Caribbean, most of the traditions that are associated with Diwali are still being practiced. However, as the festival evolved in this part of the world, there are some additions to it which we may not find in India. For example, there is a Diwali parade in New York, Diwali Nagar in Trinidad and Tobago and a Motorcade in Guyana. Each are unique in their own way and they all have support from not just Hindus, but Non-Hindus who join the celebrations to witness the pomp and joy during Diwali.

In this corner of the world, North and South America, the rituals, ceremonies, and Pujas are somewhat similar and in some cases more elaborate than what happens in India. However, the single message of Diwali – the removal of darkness in all forms from one’s life and allowing light, knowledge, happiness and wealth to penetrate every nook and corner of our being – remains constant.


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