Overview of the Diwali Festival

When is Diwali in 2017?

This year Diwali will start on October 17 and will continue until October 21.

Diwali always falls between Mid October or Mid November.

When does the Diwali sales period start?

Advertising for Diwali starts in the beginning of August when retailer come up with the first offers and deals targeting consumers.

How much was spent online in 2016 per capita?

In 2016, the expected online consumer spending was around Rs 12,000 crore ($1.8 billion).

In most regions of India, Diwali celebrations pan across five days. The Diwali night is on the new moon or the darkest night. It marks the end of the lunar Hindu month Ashvin and the start of the new month of Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, the Diwali night is generally observed near the end of October, or somewhere near the start of November. The darkest autumn night grows bright with lanterns, candles, diyas and LED lights too.
Sights and sounds are other key symbols of the Diwali night. An assortment of rich Rangoli designs is also very common in most households in North and South India. People celebrate various flavours too – with a lot of sweets and desserts. While most preparations are flagged off several weeks before the festival, the big cake is cut through the five days of the festival. Each of these days is significant in its own account. Here is an account of all that the five days of Diwali symbolizes.

5 days celebration of Diwali and what they mean

Day 1 – Dhanteras

In most of the North and Western regions of the country, Dhanteras is the necessary precursor of Diwali. Most residential and commercial establishments are cleaned and decorated days before (and through) Dhanteras. New renovation works are also scheduled a few days before Dhanteras. Children and women paint and decorate the entrance of the houses with Rangoli. These are colourful and creative pieces of artwork that are prominent in both houses and office entrances.

On Dhanteras, men and boys are generally tasked with exterior lighting of the house and taking care of any renovation work that is in progress. The festival also commemorates the day when the cosmic ocean was churned for the milk of wealth and prosperity – giving birth to Goddess Lakshmi. It is also the birthday of Dhanvantari – widely regarded as the deity of Healing and Health.

Every Dhanteras night, people leave diyas and candles burning near the doors of every house. These keep burning through the night to respect Goddess Lakshmi and Dhanvantari. Dhanteras is also considered a major occasion for shopping where people invest heavily in gold and silver. Clothes, apparel and home furnishings are also popular shopping categories. With the ecommerce boom, people from most towns and cities now prefer shopping online.

Day 2 – Naraka Chaturdasi

Naraka Chaturdasi is the second day of festivities. It is also considered a major event as millions of Indians celebrate Choti Diwali on this day. In the Hindu mythology, there is the legend of an asura (demon) called Narakasura. It is believed that Naraka was killed by Satyabhama, Krishna and Kali. The morning of Choti Diwali starts with several rituals on this day. The festivities follow soon after and some delicious meals are cooked.

States in the South including Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu celebrate Diwali on this day. House decorations move to Level 2 and more colourful Rangoli patterns are made on this day. In some regions, special bathing ceremonies are held. This may also involve baths in fragrant oil. Naraka Chaturdasi is also known for several small pujas that are held across the contours. Typically, women would decorate one another’s hands with henna designs.

In most states, the day of Naraka Chaturdasi is also the start of the preparation of homemade sweets. These sweets are of various types and involve use of various ingredients. However, it has been widely noted that grounded coconut is a major ingredient in most of these sweets.   

Day 3 – Lakshmi Puja

The third day is the day with the maximum festivity, as this is the day that is actually known as Diwali. You can easily expect most Indians to be wearing their best outfits on this day. As the evening is near, the diyas are lit and major pujas are offered to Goddess Lakshmi. Depending on which part of India you are in, pujas are also offered to Kubera, Ganesha and Saraswati.

Lakshmi is the goddess of prosperity and wealth. Hindus consider her blessings very important to have a successful year ahead. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi roams amid the human dimension. People would open their windows and doors to welcome the goddess and place diyas and candles on their windowsills, doors and balconies to extend their invitation to the goddess. Special felicitations are placed on the mothers who toil hard all year long and are revered for embodying the goddess herself.

Small earthen diyas and oil-filled lamps are placed on the parapets of homes and temples. In some really beautiful displays, diyas are set adrift on small streams and rivers too. Important relationships and friendships are also recognized on this day, as people visit friends and relatives and exchange sweets amongst themselves.

The evening lighting is followed by lighting up patakhas or the firecrackers. While children enjoy some small and safe fireworks, there is a full range for adults to exploit. Right from the charkhas to sutli bombs and annars (flowerpots) to rockets – there is a full range of firework on display. This also signifies the chasing away of evil spirits. Once the celebrations are over, the night runs into a wholesome feast, long conversations and of course, more sweets.

Day 4 – Balipratipada, Padwa

Padwa is the day that follows Diwali. The major ritual celebrated on this day is the affection and mutual devotion among couples, especially husbands and wives. The day is marked by husbands giving some thoughtful (or precious) gifts to their wives. In many parts of the country, parents invite their newly married daughters along with their husbands for a special meal at the house.

In some parts, it is a ritual for brothers to go to the houses of their married sisters and escort them home. This day on the calendar is pretty much the second yearly anniversary for married couples. Other members in the family usually present collective gifts to the couple in the house.

Another important puja performed on this day is Govardhan puja. This is when devotees remember Lord Krishna, who in a heroic bravado, saved the residents of Gokul from a torrential rain by lifting up the Govardhan mountain on his fingertip. This is also the beginning of the Hindu New Year in areas where the Vikram Samvat calendar is popular. Shopkeepers renew their accounting books in recognition of the same.   

Day 5 – Bhai Duj

Many might not be in the know about this. But Bhai Duj is basically the fifth day of the extended Diwali festival. In Nepal, Bhai Duj is known as Bhai Tika. In fact, this is the major festive day in Nepal. Bhai Duj celebrates the love and bonding between brothers and sisters. While the spirit of the festival is similar to Raksha Bandhan, there is a totally different set of rituals that are followed.

Bhai Duj specially signifies the lifelong bond that exists between siblings. It is a day when women, single and married alike come home to their brothers, perform a special puja for their well-being, share food, gifts and tales from childhood. Historically, this would be the time in autumn when brothers would undertake long journeys to meet their sisters. Alternatively, brothers would bring their sisters’ kin to their own villages and share the harvest for the season.

Top Diwali offers online

Diwali is by now the main shopping season in India. Some of the biggest retailers have joined in on the Diwali euphoria and provide the best offers and deals during this sales period. For example, you find great offers with the following big retailers: