Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most important holidays for Hindus and is often compared to Christmas in the west. This holiday is celebrated with different forms of light including lit clay lanterns, string lights, candles, and firecrackers which all symbolize the metaphorical defeat of darkness and the victory of good over evil.
Diwali is a 5-day holiday which the main celebrations occurring on the 3rd day which is simply known as ‘Diwali’. The date of this festival is based on the lunar calendar and therefore changes every year, but it usually falls in November or late October.
In 2020, Diwali will take place from November 12 to 16 with the main day of celebrations occurring on Saturday, November 14.
Preparations for the holiday can start weeks in advance with Diwali fair and markets opening up to sell decorations and sweets. Most Indians get around a week off of work for the holiday.
Diwali Festival Dates and Holiday Calendar
Diwali celebrations take place over 5 days with each day typically having different rituals and traditions. Below we have listed all the days of Diwali along with their calendar dates and a short description of what happens on each day.
This holiday can be celebrated on different dates according to the region. South India calls this holiday Deepavali and celebrates it one day before North India. This year all of India will celebrate Diwali on November 14.
|2020 Holiday Date||
|Day of the Week||Thursday||Friday||Saturday||Sunday||Monday|
|Name of the Day||Dhanteras||Choti Diwali||Diwali||Padwa||Bhai Duj (Bhaubeej)|
|Traditions and Events||This is the first day of the festival when people clean their homes and prepare for the events ahead. This is also a large shopping day when it is considered lucky to go to markets and buy gold or new kitchen items.||The second day is when people start decorating their homes. Many families will put up string lights and start creating their rangoli which are intricate designs placed on the floors of homes.||On the day of Diwali, families get together to exchange gifts and have a large meal. The clay oil lamps or diyas are lit and the rituals to the goddess Lakshmi are performed. Many people wear their nicest clothes on this day.||The fourth day of celebrations is dedicated to the love between husband and wife and men will often buy gifts for their wives. Many businesses open new accounts on this day as it is considered auspicious.||The last day of celebrations is dedicated to brothers and sisters. To celebrate their bond, sisters perform a special ceremony for their brothers for their protection. Brothers give presents to their sisters.|
How Long is Diwali?
The celebration of Diwali traditionally lasts for 5 days although some families only celebrate on the main day while others participate in the full week of celebration.
The most important part of the celebration is the ritual that takes place on the third day. This ritual is called Lakshmi puja and is dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi who is believed to visit the homes of devotees on the night of Diwali and bring them wealth and good fortune in the new year.
Diwali Public Holiday
Diwali is a public holiday for the general population of India and almost the entire country has the main day of main off. Depending on the region the official public holiday may take place on different days, but most Indians take off the entire week to be with their families.
Most banks and businesses will be closed on Diwali. You can also expect most restaurants and shops to be closed or have reduced hours throughout the week. Public transportation should still be running as many Indians use it to travel to their family homes, but you should always check with your hotel or guide to make sure.
Diwali is not really celebrated in the South Indian state of Kerala, and although there is a public holiday for the event you can expect some shops and restaurants to remain open.
Diwali Events Across India
In India, each state is very different from its neighbors and likely has its own unique culture and language. Because of this, many states celebrate Diwali differently from one another.
Here are the top holiday events and different celebrations that take place on Diwali in India.
|Deepavali||South India||November 14 (usually occurs the day before Diwali, but this year it will take place on the same day)||The holiday in South India is called Deepavali and usually takes place one day before Diwali. Diwali in Tamil Nadu includes Ayurvedic medicine and rituals to appease the ancestors.|
|Naraka Chaturdashi||Goa and West India||November 14 (usually occurs the day before Diwali, but this year it will take place on the same day)||In Goa, people believe that Diwali celebrates the defeat of the evil demon Narakasura by Durga and Krishna. To celebrate they burn large effigies of the demon and parade through the streets.|
|Dev Diwali||Varanasi||November 29||Dev Diwali a celebration unique to Varanasi’s that takes place 15 days after Diwali. At this time, the gods are believed to gather at the Ganges in Varanasi and to celebrate the city lights clay lanterns, decorates, and sets of fireworks.|
|Kali Puja||West Bengal, Orissa, and Assam||November 14||While most of the country celebrates Lakshmi, West Bengal and other east Indian states worship Kali, the goddess of destruction. During Kali Puja, large statues of the fearsome goddess are erected around the city and she is given offerings and worshipped.|
|Jain Diwali||All over India, but some of the best places include Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Gujarat||November 14||While Diwali is mainly a Hindu holiday, it is also celebrated by Jains. Jains believe that Diwali is the day that Lord Mahavir achieved Nirvana and freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth.|
|Bandi Chor Divas||Punjab||November 14||Diwali is also celebrated by Sikhs in India. For Sikhs, this holiday commemorates the day when the 6th guru, Guru Hargobind was released from unjust imprisonment. To take in the beauty of the Sikh celebrations, head to the Golden Temple in Amritsar.|
The Date of Diwali is Determined by the Hindu Lunar Calendar
Like many Indian festivals, the date of Diwali changes every year. The reason for this is due to the Hindu calendar which is based on both lunar and solar cycles that are combined into one system.
The lunar calendar is often used for religious purposes and marks important days of worship whereas the solar calendar is used for day-to-day schedules and is sometimes called the civil calendar.
Diwali takes place on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik which is the day of the new moon or Amavasya. This night is considered to be the darkest night of the year in Hindu mythology and is very holy.
Diwali Dates 1990 to 2030
Here are all the dates of the festival of colors in India from 1990 to 2030.
The dates included in the table is that of the main day of celebrations. Diwali is also celebrated for two days before and two days after this date.
Learn More About Experiencing Diwali in India
Learn everything you need to know about visiting India during Diwali from where to go to how to celebrate the festival as a traveler. Diwali is a very family-focused holiday and the best way for travelers to enjoy the festival is by exploring the decorated markets or spending time with an Indian family.
Take a look at the top places to experience Diwali in India to start your planning and decide where you want to spend the Festival of Lights this year. Our favorite places to celebrate Diwali in India include Varanasi for its gorgeous lights and intricate rituals, Jaipur for its beautiful markets, and Kolkata for its unique Kali Puja.
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