Diwali, or Deepavali, is one of the largest Hindu holidays of the year and is the celebration of the victory of good over evil and light over dark. Diwali is celebrated every year for 5 days in early October or late November and is full of beautiful lights, candles, gifts, and desserts.
A great way to learn more about Indian culture is to experience one of the country"s most important holidays. On this page, we"ve put together all the essential information about when to go, how to celebrate, where to celebrate, what hotels to look for, and all the practical advice you need for planning your Diwali trip to India.
Like most Indian holidays, the date of Diwali changes every year according to the Hindu calendar which is based on both solar and lunar cycles. The main day of Diwali celebrations falls on the night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Kartika and therefore usually takes in late October or November.
Most Indians get a week-long holiday for Diwali which means that transportation and popular tourist sites are likely to be more crowded than normal.
Because of this, we recommend spending at least 7-10 days in India if you plan to visit for Diwali. This way, you can experience the holiday while giving yourself enough time to travel the country and see other parts of India as well.
Diwali lasts for 5 days, but the first three days are when many of the rituals, Diwali markets, and holiday lights are at their best. It"s best to spend at least three days of Diwali in one place so you can get the full experience by exploring with a local guide or spending time with an Indian family.
There are many traditions that take place during the celebration of Diwali over its 5 days. Throughout the festival, there will be Diwali markets, beautiful lights, and people setting off fireworks and firecrackers.
The first day of Diwali (Dhanteras) is often celebrated by deep cleaning the home to welcome the goddess Lakshmi and buying gold and silver items to bring good fortune. The second day (Choti Diwali) is celebrated by decorating homes with lights and performing rituals.
The third day of celebrations is the main day of Diwali when people get together with their families, eat large meals, exchange gifts, wear their best traditional clothing, and perform rituals to honor Lakshmi.
After day three, celebrations begin to wind down and the fourth day (Padwa) is dedicated to celebrating the love between husband and wife while the fifth day (Bhai Duj) is for celebrating the bond between siblings and cousins.
Learn more about how Diwali is celebrated in India.
Diwali is a very family-focused holiday and most Indians perform the religious rituals in their own homes with their loved ones. Because of this, it can be hard for travelers to decide how best to experience the celebrations.
Don"t worry, there are plenty of great ways to experience Diwali as a traveler. Here are some of our favorites:
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus all across India so no matter where you go during the holiday, you will be able to experience the beautiful celebrations and rituals. There are some cities that go above and beyond the rest with how they celebrate the festival and these places are often great destinations for travelers.
The best place to spend Diwali to understand more about the religious and cultural side of the festival is Varanasi. This holy Hindu city is incredible during the celebrations with its streets and stairs leading to the Ganges lined with diyas making for picturesque views.
Jaipur is the best place to visit for beautiful views of an entire city lit up with electric lights for the holiday. Most of Jaipur"s markets and homes in the old areas of the city are beautifully decorated with colorful string lights. You can get sweeping views of the lights and colors of the city below from the impressive Nahargarh Fort.
For a different type of Diwali, we recommend heading to Kolkata where Kali Puja is celebrated on the main day of the festival. Instead of celebrating Lakshmi on this day, Kolkata celebrates Kali, the goddess of destruction, with large statues of the fearsome goddess erected in pandals all around the city.
Amritsar is a Sikh city that is world-famous as the location of the Golden Temple. In Sikhism, Diwali is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Divas, the day that Guru Hargobind Sahib was released from unjust imprisonment. During this time, the Golden Temple is draped in lights and surrounded by oil lanterns making it truly a sight to see.
For people who love Indian markets and hunting for that perfect gift or souvenir, then we recommend spending time in Delhi. The capital city absolutely comes alive over the holiday with Diwali markets and fairs that are decorated in string lights and sell everything from religious items and diyas to traditional clothing and gold.
Get more ideas on the best places to spend Diwali in India.
To get the most cultural insight during your trip, it is important to book a hotel or homestay that has Diwali activities for the guests to participate in. For those who want to stay in comfort and luxury while celebrating, many Indian heritage hotels put on Diwali celebrations for their guests.
The Samode Palace and Samode Haveli in Jaipur are beautiful hotels that both offer Diwali activities as well as fireworks. The Pushkar Bagh luxury heritage resort offers special Diwali packages for their guests and all Neemrana and Ambassador hotels put on holiday activities. Make sure to call and ask the hotel about their activities before booking.
If you are looking for a more local Diwali experience, then there"s no better way than staying with an Indian family. Homestays have become more and more popular in India, especially in tourist cities like Delhi and Jaipur.
In Jaipur, the All Seasons Homestay is a comfortable and clean homestay that welcomes guests to celebrate with them. In Delhi, we love the Prakash Kutir bed-and-breakfast.
Traveling in India can already be an intense and chaotic experience, but when Diwali comes along things can get even more crowded and confusing. Here are some tips about traveling in India during Diwali to help you have the most enjoyable holiday experience.
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