Home India Travel GuideDiwali 2020—What it is and How to Celebrate

Diwali 2020—What it is and How to Celebrate

Diwali (pronounced Di-val-ee) is often called the Festival of Lights and is the most important holiday of the year in India. During this holiday, the whole country gets into a joyous and festive mood while they prepare to celebrate with rituals, decorations, great food, gifts, clay oil lamps, and beautiful firework displays. 

The most iconic image of Diwali is the lit diya or small clay oil lantern. If you visit India during this holiday, you will see streets lined with diyas as people light the way for Lord Rama to return home or for Goddess Lakshmi to bring them prosperity.

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about this festival including its stories and history, when it takes place, how to celebrate as a foreigner, and some tips on enjoying this festival while in India.

Diwali

So what is Diwali?

Diwali is a festival that celebrates the victory of light over darkness and triumph of good over evil in Indian mythology. The holiday is celebrated over 5 days and includes many traditions. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali which means 'row of lights' and refers to the holiday's many diyas and glowing decorations. 

This holiday is very important to most Indians as it is a time to gather with extended family for a large meal. Most households spend a few days preparing homemade sweets leading up to the holiday so they can give them to any visitors who stop by. It is a tradition for young people to visit the houses of their neighbors and elders on the holiday.

History and Stories of Diwali

Because Diwali is celebrated by so many different religions and is surrounded by many myths, it is very difficult to know exactly when and where the festival began. Most researchers believe the festival is more than 2,500 years old and that the holiday is a fusion of many different ancient festivals into one large harvest celebration.

There are many legends and stories that surround Diwali and each region of India believes in a different one. For most Indians, this festival celebrates the birth of the goddess Lakshmi who is said to have emerged from the ocean on the new moon night of the Hindu month of Kartik.

Many people in northern India celebrate the return of Lord Rama after 14 years of exile as told in the Ramayana epic. In South India, most people celebrate Lord Krishna and his defeat of the demon Narakasura. 

When is Diwali 2020?

Diwali, like many Indian holidays, is based on the lunar calendar so the date of the festival changes each year, but it typically falls in late October or early November.

The festival takes place on the night of the new moon after the summer harvest. This is considered to be the darkest night of the year according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar and is very holy.

So when exactly is Diwali? Well, in 2020 it will take place over 5 days from November 12th to 16th

Learn more about how the time of Diwali is decided and about the upcoming dates of the festival.

How Diwali is Celebrated

There are many different traditions that surround the celebration of this holiday. Overall, it is considered an important time for introspection and cleansing. Certain Hindus consider it to be the start of the new year and use it as a time to get rid of the negativity of the past and perform rituals to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. 

The 5 Days of Diwali

Day 1 (Dhanteras): This is the day when people clean their homes to prepare for the return of goddess Lakshmi. This is also the biggest shopping day when people head to the Diwali markets to buy gold, silver, kitchenware, and other auspicious items.

Day 3 (Diwali): This is the main day of celebrations when families get together and the cities fill with lights and fireworks. Everyone puts on their most beautiful new and traditional clothing and takes a cleansing bath in the morning. Young people spend the day visiting their relatives and families often exchange gifts.

Day 4 (Padwa): The fourth day of the festival is dedicated to celebrating the love between husband and wife. Men will often buy gifts for their wives on this day.

As the ritual asking goddess Lakshmi to bring wealth and prosperity to the family was performed the night before, this is considered an auspicious time to start new accounts or business ventures. This is also a large day for gambling and the casinos in Goa are especially popular. 

Diwali Greetings

The traditional greeting that is often said on Diwali is 'Shubh Deepavali' or 'Diwali ki Shubhkamnayein'. Both greetings directly translate to 'have an auspicious Diwali'. 

It has also common for Indians to greet each other by just saying 'Happy Diwali'.

On the holiday, many people send electronic greeting cards to their friends and family wishing them a happy holiday. If you're in India for the holiday, you can also send greeting cards via Whatsapp, India's preferred method of communication.

Diwali Food

Food is a major part of the celebration of Diwali. During the festival, friends and relatives exchange Indian sweets. These sweets can be homemade or bought in markets.

Diwali Decorations