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Erleben Sie das Diwali Festival of Lights in Indien


Three people using sparklers to celebrate Diwali
Hallo, mein Name ist Kavita!

Kavita Chowdhury is an independent journalist, travel writer, and journalism educator from India. She writes on a diverse range of issues including travel, heritage, art, and culture as well as social development, politics, and gender. She writes for both national as well as international publications and enjoys chronicling the extraordinary stories of ordinary people she encounters in her travels.

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Hi, I'm Kavita!

Kavita Chowdhury is an independent journalist, travel writer, and journalism educator from India. She writes on a diverse range of issues including travel, heritage, art, and culture as well as social development, politics, and gender. She writes for both national as well as international publications and enjoys chronicling the extraordinary stories of ordinary people she encounters in her travels.

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Diwali, also known as Deepawali, is a Festival of Lights or “deeps” (lamps), typically celebrated with friends and family. Essentially a community festival, Diwali brings together food, gifts, laughter and—of course—fireworks, with the simple diya (earthernware lamp) serving as a symbol of light and hope. For Hindus (and others) throughout India and the world, Diwali is one of the most important events on the calendar. Here’s what to know before you go if you want to celebrate Diwali in India.

When is Diwali celebrated

Diwali is celebrated every year as per the Hindu calendar between mid-October and mid-November, right around the harvest season. Usually a 5-day festival, the main festivities take place on the night of the new moon, when the sparklers and the oil lamps shine the brightest against the backdrop of the dark night sky.

Insider tip: Be prepared to stay up late if you’re celebrating Diwali in India, as many festivities take place after dark.

Diwali is celebrated in October or November each year. | Bildquelle: Kurkul / Shutterstock

What is Diwali about?

People across India, Indian diasporas, and other South Asian countries mark Diwali; however, in a country as diverse as India, festivities and honorees have their own regional variations.

The northern states generally worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth; and Ganesh, the elephant-headed God of Prosperity. Here, Diwali has been celebrated since ancient times to mark the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after the end of his long exile and victory over the demon Ravana. However, in South India, Diwali commemorates the slaying of the demon Narakasur by Lord Krishna. In Goa, giant effigies of the demon Narakasur are paraded before being burnt. Meanwhile, over to the east in Bengal, they worship the mighty goddess Kali, the Destroyer of Evil.

But the one thing which binds all these celebrations together is the intent to dispel evil and darkness by way of light.

Did you know? Diwali is often considered a Hindu festival, but it’s also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains.

The demon Narakasur takes centerstage at Diwali festivities in Goa. | Bildquelle: knyazevfoto / Shutterstock

How is Diwali celebrated?

The run-up to Diwali

In the countdown to Diwali, taash (playing card) parties are popular, especially among the urban elite in India’s capital, New Delhi; meanwhile, in the financial hub of Mumbai, Diwali parties are all the rage among celebrities, and markets and bazaars are full to bursting with festive shoppers trying to hit upon the best bargain.

Since Diwali also marks the beginning of the New Year in many parts of India—including the state of Gujarat—people typically spring clean their homes, shop for gifts and clothes, and decorate their houses with sparkling electric lights, transforming entire towns and cities across India into twinkling fairy lands.

Lighting diyas and creating floral arrangements or rangolis is all part of the Diwali fun. | Bildquelle: Subir Basak / Shutterstock

Diwali day

On Diwali day, families decorate their homes with flower garlands and rangolis (floor decorations made with colored powder), as well as prepare traditional sweets. (Diwali would be incomplete without a treat or two, so don’t skip the Diwali ladoo, made of gram flour and sugar.) Once night falls, candles, diyas, and brass lamps are lit up. Then, after the traditional puja (worship) at home and temple visits, friends and relatives come round for feasting, sweets, and gifts. Children especially look forward to the festival, for the fireworks and the sparklers.

Insider tip: Do buy the handmade clay diyas and candles from the artisans who wait all year long for this festival.

Sweet treats are a key part of Diwali festivities. | Bildquelle: Arisha Ray Singh / Shutterstock

Where to celebrate Diwali in India

Family get-togethers are a major marker of Diwali celebrations, as people typically return home to be with their loved ones. So, to experience Diwali like a local, join a family’s festivities in Delhi, Mumbai, or Jaipur to see first-hand how they celebrate. (And do take a box of Indian sweets or chocolates as a thank you gesture.)

Alternatively, visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab for the brilliant fireworks display and innumerable lamps, or witness the ghats and diyas in Varanasi. If you want to experience a community puja, then go to Kolkata in Bengal to see images of the goddess Kali installed in neighborhood pandals (cloth and bamboo structures) across the city.

In Mumbai, the night sky is aglow with paper lanterns called kandeels, while Goa-goers can enjoy the sight of giant effigies paraded on the street. In Chennai, Tamil Nadu, kolam (white rice flour designs) adorn homes and public spaces.

Insider tip: Although there’s technically a ban on any noise-making crackers, be prepared for loud firecrackers on and after Diwali day.

The Diwali celebrations in Varanasi are famously elaborate. | Bildquelle: Igor Chus / Shutterstock

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