Celebrated across India, Diwali, or Deepavali, also known as “the festival of lights” is the biggest festival in India. This five-day festival usually takes place roughly a month after the festival of Dussehra, and is meant to symbolize the spiritual victory of light over darkness, and of good over evil. It is also believed to be the time when Lord Rama and his wife Sita returned to their capital Ayodhya (after the defeat of demon Ravana on Dussehra). Homes, shops and temples are all brightly lit up, and people also burst fireworks and share delicious sweets during this time. Here are some of the best places to visit for grand Diwali celebrations in India.
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Diwali Celebrations 2023
Based on the lunar calendar, this year Diwali is celebrated between 10th November and 14th November. It takes place over five days, which begins on Dhanteras and ends on Bhai Dooj. Each day of Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm following different rituals and traditions. Check out the detailed list of these five auspicious days right here!
Day-1 – Friday 10th November – Dhanteras (Trayodashi)
This is the first day of Diwali celebrations where people celebrate wealth and welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, into their homes. It is the best time to purchase gold and metal.
Day-2 – Saturday 11th November – Choti Diwali (Chaturdashi)
The second day is Naraka Chaturdasi (also known as Choti Diwali), the time when people start decorating their houses with flowers and rangoli. Special prayers are also offered for the departed souls of ancestors.
Day-3 – Sunday 12th November – Lakshmi Puja (Amavasya)
On the third day, people perform a special Lakshmi Puja seeking blessings for family members and to ensure their prosperity. Lighting of diyas, candles, and fireworks starts on this day.
Day-4 – Monday 13th November – Govardhan Puja (Pratipada)
Day four is Govardhan Puja (which commemorates the deity Krishna’s defeat of the rain Indra), though it is also known as Bali Padyami in southern India (marking the victory of Vishnu over the demon king Bali). Special prayers are offered to Lord Krishna on this day.
Day-5 – Tuesday 14th November – Bhai Dooj (Dwitiya)
The last day of Diwali celebrations is dedicated to the bond shared between the brother and sister. On this day sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal. The whole ceremony signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister and sister’s blessings for her brother.
Best Places For Diwali Celebrations In India
Diwali is a time for families and friends to come together to celebrate this magnificent festival. There is no better place for Diwali celebrations than home. But if you are visiting India and want to experience the best of this grandeur festival, here are the top 6 diverse destinations to understand how differently it’s celebrated in different places.
Varanasi, City Of Lights
One of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in India, Varanasi celebrates Diwali on a truly grand scale. Start with a dip in the holy Ganges and then go on to experience Diwali celebrations on a grander scale at Varanasi. Loud and vibrant firecrackers are set off in every street all night long, and you can get an excellent view of these from the banks of the Ganges. There is also a special “Ganga Aarti,” where the ghats are illuminated, and diyas are floated down the river. Two weeks later, on a full moon night, Dev Deepavali is celebrated, along with the Ganga Mahotsav cultural festival. The ghats are once again brightly illuminated, and there is a procession of Hindu deities through the streets. For best views and experiences, make sure you stay at one of the riverside hotels in Varanasi.
Goa, Land Of Pristine Beaches
Goa is another wonderful place to celebrate Diwali in India. Here the focus is on the destruction of demon Narakasura by the god Krishna. Giant papier–mâché effigies of the demon built by locals are filled with firecrackers and set alight at dawn on Narakasura Chaturdashi, the day before the main festival of Diwali. As Diwali is considered an auspicious time to spend money shopping and gambling, why not try your luck at Goa’s top casinos. Make sure to book in advance for the top floating casinos, as they are very popular at this time of year. Visiting the hottest beaches, swanky restaurants and lounges are the other things to do while here.
Amritsar, Golden City
You may be surprised to learn that Amritsar was founded on Diwali in 1577. In Amritsar, generally Diwali celebrations coincide with the Sikh celebrations of Bandi Chhor Divas. This day marks the liberation of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind, from a Mughal prison, and to celebrate the occasion, special prayers are said throughout the city. During Diwali the Golden Temple is covered in twinkling Diwali lights and one can also watch the mesmerizing display of fireworks over the temple sky. Diwali is a beautiful time to visit the Golden Temple as the temple looks stunning when illuminated by countless oil lamps and candles. The cool weather, the beautiful sarson (mustard) fields, scrumptious local cuisine and the enthusiasm of the locals makes a visit to this place worth it.
Jaipur, Pink City
The vast sweeps of Jaipur, the “Pink City,” is lit up with the warm glow of lights and lamps during Diwali. Its markets are also beautifully illuminated, and the different markets take part in a competition to see who has the best decorations. The beautiful lakes that glow and shimmer with the reflections of fireworks and the lights of Diwali makes it a great place to be during the holidays. Climb up the Nahargarh Fort to have some amazing views of the decorated and illuminated city. It is also a great place to view the Diwali fireworks. Many heritage hotels in Jaipur arrange Diwali celebrations for their guests that include lighting the diyas and watching the holiday rituals take place. Just like Las Vegas, Johari Bazaar has also earned the title of “The Strip” in Jaipur during Diwali.
Kolkata, City Of Joy
Though most people in India worship the goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, Kolkata honors the goddess Kali. Goddess Kali is worshiped for her unique ability to destroy the ego and illusions. The city’s Kali temples magnificently decorated idols of the fearsome Goddess, and pilgrims throng to see them. Don’t miss the biggest shrines at the Kalighat Temple, Belur Math and Dakshineswar Temple. Huge decorated idols of Goddess Kali are put on displays across the city for people to visit. The dazzling earthen lamps, candles, string lights, and fireworks helps the City of Joy to live up to its name during Diwali. One can also see the detailed offerings to the Goddess that includes meat, fish, flowers, and sweets. It is at this time of the year when Kolkatans get over their post-Puja hangover and start celebrations anew.
Udaipur, City Of Lakes
With the majestic Lake Pichola reflecting the city’s bright lights, palaces, and fireworks, Udaipur is a top choice for Diwali celebrations. You can visit the Udaipur Light Festival, which features performances from various singers, art installations, food stalls, fun activities and more. The city also holds a small lantern festival where people can release flying lanterns into the air during Diwali time. This event generally takes place at Shouryagarh Resort & Spa just outside Udaipur. If you are interested in the religious aspects of Diwali, you can head to the Mahalaxmi temple in Bhatiyani Chohatta to watch the pujas and rituals. Tourists flock to this temple to pay their respects to Lakshmi and pray for luck and wealth in the coming year.
Mysore, Sandalwood City
Mysore is undoubtedly one of the best places in South India for vibrant Diwali celebrations. The backdrop of magnificent palaces and temples makes festivities even more fascinating in the historic city of Mysore. The city’s main attraction, the Mysore Palace, is beautifully lit up during Diwali which attracts thousands of visitors to this place every year. Houses are decorated with Diwali diyas and rangoli. Most of the places around are also decorated, such as the Brindavan gardens and Somnathpur temple. Besides this, several pandals are set up across the city, where you can enjoy carnivals, music, dance, cultural fairs and other fun-filled activities. Sweets are considered a very important part of this festival, and one can find sweet stalls in every nook and corner during this time.
Mumbai, City That Never Sleeps
There’s no better place to experience the Diwali vibes than Mumbai, even on regular days the entire city is full of life. Mumbaikars go all out of their way to illuminate their lives and homes with the Diwali vibe. Be it Diwali or any other festivals, the streets of Mumbai are always decked up to bring in the festivities. Prominent monuments like the Gateway of India and other historic places can be seen lit up to match with the festival of lights of Diwali.
Some Interesting Facts About Diwali
- Diwali has a history of being celebrated for over 2500 years.
- The dates of this five day festival keeps changing every year.
- Diwali is not just celebrated by Hindus but also by Jains and Sikhs.
- Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty, fortune, and prosperity is the major deity worshiped.
- It is only in West Bengal who celebrates Kali, the goddess of destruction, during Diwali.
- The word ‘Diwali’ literally means “row of lights” in Sanskrit.
- Playing cards and gambling with money is considered to be fun activity on this day alone.
- The foundation for the construction of the Golden Temple was laid on Diwali day.
- The theme of Diwali remains the same everywhere, only the way it’s celebrated varies from one place to another. Make this Diwali special for you and your loved ones by planning a vacation to any of these places to make the most of this festival. If you would like to add any other incredible destinations to this list, do share them in the comment section below. May this Diwali bring good health, wealth, and happiness to all. Come let’s celebrate Diwali more responsibly and cautiously. Happy Diwali!
Varanasi is a must visit place during Diwali to participate in the Dev Deepavali which is a part of the iconic Ganga Mahotsav Festival.
Apart from India it is widely celebrated in other countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal and Fiji.
Decorations with diyas and lights, crackers, gifts and lots of sweets are the main attractions of this festival.
Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is the place from where 90% of the fireworks used for Diwali in India come from.