Diwali, the festival of light, is one of biggest festivals in India and is celebrated in October or November every year, depending on the cycle of the moon. It is observed on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu calendar.

Also known as Deepawali, Diwali is celebrated across India when people decorate their houses with rangoli artworks and light earthen lamps at night. Firecrackers light up the night sky and sweets and gifts are exchanged.

According to Hindu tradition, the Diwali festival marks the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya along with wife Sita and brother Laxman after 14 years of exile and a decisive war devil Ravan. On this day, Lord Ganesha is worshipped for welfare and prosperity and Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for wealth & wisdom.

READ MORE: Indian festivals calendar 2018 | Here’s a guide to plan your long weekends, holidays

Diwali dates

Diwali preparations
 

 

This year, Diwali or Deepawali will be celebrated on Wednesday, November 7. While the main festival is observed on the Kartik Amavasya, Diwali sees two important days in the run-up to it. The festival actually runs for five days, preceded and followed by days that have their own significance according to Hindu culture.

  • November 5, 2018 (Monday): Dhanteras

‘Dhan’, means wealth, and ‘teras’ means the 13th day of a lunar fortnight. On this day, Goddess Lakshmi is welcomed into the houses and gold or silver is purchased as a symbol of prosperity.

  • November 6, 2018 (Tuesday): Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali

It is believed that Lord Krishna and Goddess Kali destroyed the demon Narakasura on this day.

  • November 7, 2018 (Wednesday): Diwali

The festival is always celebrated on the Amavasya (no-moon night) of the month of Kartik. Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped on this day, and a special puja is offered in the evening. West Bengal celebrates Kali Puja on this day, though the date may vary according to the lunar calendar.

  • November 8, 2018 (Thursday): Govardhan Puja

In north India, Govardhan Puja is celebrated to mark Lord Krishna’s victory over Indra, the god of rain and thunder. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu celebrate the victory of Lord Vishnu over demon king Bali on this day, which they observe as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padyami. In Gujarat, the day is celebrated as the start of their new year.

  • November 9, 2018 (Friday): Bhai Dooj or Bhaiya Dooj

Sisters put a tilak on the forehead of their brothers and pray for their long life. Similar to Raksha Bandhan, Bhaiya Dooj is dedicated to the bond shared between a brother and a sister.