Diwali – Festival of Light

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Diwali – Festival of Light

Diwali is the biggest festival in India, a celebration of the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. The word Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps” and it is also called the Festival of Light. Everyone lights small diyas (lamps) and fireworks to help guide Lord Rama home from exile.

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Everyone lights small diyas (lamps) and fireworks to help guide Lord Rama home from exile
Everyone lights small diyas (lamps) and fireworks to help guide Lord Rama home from exile

Diwali is basically the equivalent of Christmas — a big, festive celebration that brings families together and is the highlight of the holiday season. There are five days of festivities, each marked with different pujas (prayers) and rituals.

What you need to know

Like most festivals in India, Diwali’s date changes from year to year as it’s based on the lunar cycle and not a fixed date. So check the date in advance, and plan accordingly. Diwali ties up traffic like nobody’s business and makes travel challenging.

How to celebrate

Diwali is largely a family celebration, much like Christmas. Stay with Indian friends or book into a homestay or small, family-run guesthouse so you can experience Diwali with a family.

Diwali is largely a family celebration, much like Christmas
Diwali is largely a family celebration, much like Christmas

Where to celebrate

Diwali (also known as Deepavali) is celebrated throughout India, though there are regional differences. Cities like Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and Mumbai go all out on Diwali, and the effect is dazzling … to the point of ear-splitting. I’ve been in Delhi twice for Diwali and found the noise and the pollution caused from all the fireworks to be overwhelming.