The ways of celebrating Diwali, the ‘festival of lights’ differ from region to region. India is a large country and there are many regional names of Diwali. The universal theme of Diwali is the same, ie, the triumph of Good over Evil, the Darkness paving way for Light and Ignorance leading to Knowledge. With mild winters approaching after scorching summers, the fun-filled Deepavali, is celebrated for five days from Krishna Chaturdashi to Kaartik Shukla Dwitiya. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs & Jains, and each community celebrating Diwali for different reasons and in their own unique ways.
Days before Diwali, people start cleaning, decorating and lighting up their homes with colorful lights. They prepare new sweets, buy new clothes & jewelry. But in some parts of India, the rituals of Diwali starts off two days before Dhanteras (first day of Diwali). Such rituals are:
Agyaras: The Patels and the Vaishnavas begin their Diwali celebrations before Dhanteras, on the 11th day of Ashwin. The day is devoted to preparing tasty snacks and savories.
Wagh Baras: This day signifies the importance of women in society. Women in the house are worshiped and they buy new clothes and jewelry. It’s more like the ancient Indian version of Women’s day.
Throughout India, the first day of Diwali is widely known as Dhanteras. On this Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, and Goddess Laxmi is celebrated and worshipped. Dhanteras is also known by various other names such as:
Dhantrayodashi: Dhantrayodashi a special ritual is accomplished which is called Deep Daan. During Dhantrayodashi, lamps are lit for every individual in the family and ancestors and they are floated in a river or pond (basically a flowing water body) as offering.
Yamadeepdaan: Another name of the festival of Dhanteras is Yamadeepdaan. This name is associated with Sixteen-year old son of King Hima was doomed to die but the dedication and commitment of his young wife made Yam, the God of Death, return back.
Dhan Teyras: Fast is kept and the worship is done on Dhan Teyras by lighting an earthen lamp in front of the main entrance of the house and offering water, vermilion, rice, jaggery and flowers to Yamaraj.
Ashwayuja Bahula Thrayodasi / Dhantheran: In few South Indian States this festival is known as Ashwayuja Bahula Thrayodasi or Dhantheran. This day is marked by buying new utensils and silver/gold items.
First Day – regional names of Diwali
Second Day – regional names of Diwali
In every Indian household, the second day is celebrated by lighting five to seven ghee lamps (diyas) on the door and every nook and corner of the house. It is like Diwali on a smaller scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. The various regional names associated with the second day are:
Choti Diwali: Choti Diwali or ‘Small Diwali’ is Diwali on a smaller scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. This day is known as Choti Diwali in most North Indian States.
Naraka Chaturdashi: Celebrated in all South Indian states, God Yama is worshiped on this day to overcome the fear of demon Narakasura. People make an effigy of Narakasura, and burn it. Later, they take bath and burst crackers.
Roop Chaturdashi: On the occasion of Roop Chaturdashi, Hindus takes a ritual bath and perform Sadhana (Meditation) for gain of beauty and magnetism.
Kali Choudas: The day before Divali is called Kali Chaudas and on this day, a head wash and application of kajal in the eyes is believed to keep away the kali nazar (evil eye).
Mahanisha / Kali Puja: The festival of Diwali is known as Mahanisha in Bengal. It is believed that Maha Kali appeared on this day, accompanied by 64,000 yoginis.
Divvela Panduga / Divili Panduga: Divvela Panduga, also known as Divili Panduga is one of the most significant festival of Andhra Pradesh that include the legend of Narakasura, decoration of house by rangolis, oil lamps and celebration by lighting firecrackers.
Third Day – regional names of Diwali
Accompanied by the exchange of sweets/ gifts and performing fireworks, the third day of Diwali is the most important and significant day. The name Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali. Other names that vary according to the regions are:
Laxmi Pujan: Laxmi pujan (Laxmi prayer) is the main custom of Diwali. Houses are decorated, Goddess laxmi is worshiped and the women do “aarti” to their husbands, while praying for his long life. Every member of the family participate in prayers (puja).
Chopda Pujan: Diwali also represents the start of a new business year so all businesses close their accounts and present them to Lakshmi and Ganesh during the Chopda Pujan. Not only this, all students also worship their books on this occasion.
Deva Divali: Among Jains, Diwali is known as Deva Diwali. It is on this day that Lord Mahavira is worshiped, sacred scriptures are recited and homes and temples are illuminated.
Sukhsuptika: Among the Kashmiri Pandits community, the festival of lights is known as Sukhsuptika, which literally means sleep with happiness and peace.
Kaumudi Mahotsava: In some part of Andhra Pradesh the festival of Diwali is known as Kaumudi Mahotsavam.
Badhausar: In Gujarat, Diwali is known as Badhausar. On this day, Lakshmi is believed to visit the homes that are well lit. So, families decorate their houses with lighted bulb chains (ladi), flowers and paper decorative chains.
Balindra Pooja: Diwali is also known as Balindra Pooja in many South Indian States. In the morning, lord Krishna is worshipped by performing puja and offering oil.
Karthikai Deepam: On the occasion of Karthigai Deepam, people clean their houses and draw ‘Kolams’ (Rangoli) in front of the house and also place some lamps on it.
Thalai Deepavali: The first Diwali of the newly wed in Tamil Nadu is known as Thalai Deepavali.
Sharda Pujan: To augur success, those involved in trade and business do puja of their new ledgers. This is known as Sharda Pujan.
Bandi Chhor Diwas: Diwali is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Divas by Sikhs throughout India. Diwali for the Sikhs is a story of struggle for freedom for Sikhs.
Diyari: Sindhis call festival as Diyari. They celebrate this festival by performing puja to Goddess Lakshmi.
Fourth Day – regional names of Diwali
The fourth day of Diwali falls on the first day of the lunar New Year. It is New Year for most of the Hindus, while for others on this day old business accounts are settled and new books are opened. The fourth day is also known as:
Govardhan puja: Govardhan Puja is an occasion to worship Lord Krishna and Govardhan Parbat or Mount Govardhan, near Mathura. Lord Krishna had held Govardhan Mountain with his little finger on this day to protect the people of Mathura from damaging rain storms.
Bestu Varas: The fourth day is celebrated as New Year and the families celebrate it by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewelry and visiting family members.
Gudi Padva: The association of the New Year termed as Padava or Padavo, with Diwali also substantiates the harvest festival theory.
Varsha Pratipada/ Pratipad Padwa: The Fourth day is also called Varsha Pratipada or Pratipad Padwa that marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikram Samvat was started from this Padwa day.
Annakoot: On the fourth day, Annakut is celebrated in observance of the episode in Sri Krishna’s childhood, in which He gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra.
Bali Padyami / Bali Pratipada: In Karnataka and other states, the fourth day is celebrated as Bali Padyami or Bali Pratipada, commemorating the annual visit of demon king Bali to his subjects on Earth.
Muhurat Puja: All business establishments and families perform muhurat puja or veneration of their books.
Fifth Day – regional names of Diwali
The fifth day of Diwali is widely known as Bhai dooj (or Bhaiya Dooj or Bhatri Ditya or Bhaiya Dauj), and is dedicated to the sacred bond shared between brothers and sisters. It is a big family day and the various regional names of this festival are:
Bhai Phota: In Bengal this event is called ‘Bhai Phota’. Two days after Kali puja, ‘Bhai Phota’ is celebrated. On this day, sisters keep a fast and invite their brothers to be felicitated.
Bhaubeej / Bhav-Bij: The fifth day of Diwali is known as Bhaubeej or Bhav-Bij in Maharashtra.
Bhai-Tika: The last day of Diwali is known as Bhai Tika in Nepal. Also known as brother and sister day, sisters pray to Yamraj (God of Death) for her brother’s long life and prosperity.
Yamadwitheya / Bhathru Dwithiya: As the legend goes Yamraj, the God of Death visited his sister Yamuna on this particular day. That is why this day of Bhaiya Dooj is also known by the name of “Yama-Dwitiya” or Bhathru Dwithiya.
Gorehabba: A unique festival celebrated by a remote village of Karnataka, Gorehabba fills joy and enthusiasm in people’s life. On this day the villagers start playing with the cow dung and there are also a few interesting rituals that are done.
Bhatri Ditya: A festival in tune with the Diwali celebration, Bhatri Ditya is a special occasion amongst brothers and sisters and is observed as a symbol of love and affection.
Bhathru Dwithiya: Bhathru Dwithiya is a significant Hindu festival that lay utmost importance to the love shared between a brother and his sister. Various rituals and customs are followed while celebrating Bhathru Dwithiya.
Kojagara: Besides Diwali, in some regions a festival called “Kojagara” is also celebrated to propitiate the Goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi.
Labh Pancham: The final festival during the Diwali period is Labh Pancham. It is also known as ‘Lakheni Panchami’ and ‘Saubhagya Panchami’.
Tulsi Vivah: A long awaited festival observed in every Hindu household of Goa, Tulsi Vivah is enthusiastically celebrated with the preparation of special sweet dishes.