Holidays Around the World: India

(Image via Getty Images)

(Image via Getty Images)

Grace Hertel, Writer

India has many holidays, but one of the most popular holidays is Diwali, the festival of lights. Diwali is celebrated for five days. The main event happens on the third day. It’s associated with Lord Ram’s return to his kingdom in Ayodhya after exile and rescuing his wife from demon King Ravan on Dussehra, according to Diwali Dates. Goddess Lakshmi is the main deity worshipped during Diwali. The dates change each year based on the Hindu lunar calendar, but typically Diwali happens in October and November. Each day has its own significant events.

The first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras. The “Dhan” part means wealth and “teras” means the 13th of a lunar fortnight on the Hindu calendar according to Diwali Dates. Lord Dhanvantari, the Hindu God of medicine, is said to have brought the nectar of immortality that day.  Kerala and Tamil Nadu have a number of temples devoted to Dhanvantari. According to legend, the Goddess Lakshmi was born on this day from the churning of the ocean. She has a special ritual to welcome her. Diwali Dates says “Gold and other metals (even including kitchen utensils) are purchased on this day.” People play cards and gamble because it is thought to be auspicious and to bring wealth throughout the year.

The second day of the festivities is known as Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali (small Diwali). “Naraka” means hell and “Chaturdasi” means the 14th day of the lunar fortnight on the Hindu calendar. This is the day that it is believed that the demon Narakasuar died at the hands of Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna. Demon effigies are burned in Goa in celebration. 

The third day of Diwali is the new moon day known as Amavasya. That day is the most significant day out of the Diwali festival; it is also the darkest day of the month. A special ritual takes place to worship Lakshmi. In West Bengal, Odisha, and Assam the day is devoted to worshipping the Goddess Kali. This day is the biggest and most celebrated out of the whole festival.

The fourth day has many meanings across India. In North India, Govardhan Puja is celebrated, which is when Lord Krishna beats Indra, the god of thunder and rain. The victory of Lord Vishnu over demon King Bali is celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padyami is celebrated in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. There is only one more day of the Diwali festival.

The fifth day is known as Bhai Duj. The celebration is dedicated to sisters. To honor the bond between them, brothers and sisters get together and share food. Diwali Dates says, “In Gujarat, the start of a new year is to be celebrated on this day in 2020. This is different from most years when it’s celebrated on the same day as Govardhan Puja.” The Diwali festival ends after these 5 days.

Diwali is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. It’s a total of five days. The first day celebrates the birth of Goddess Lakshmi. The second day is when good defeats evil. The third day is the new moon. On the fourth day, different areas in India celebrate different things. The fifth day is dedicated to sisters. Diwali or the festival of lights is an important celebration in India and if you have the chance you should go celebrate it in India.