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Diwali 2019 Tours & Trips

Diwali is India’s largest and most widely celebrated Hindu holiday of the year, and is also known as the “festival of lights.” The festival gets its name from the rows of clay lamps that locals light outside their homes to protect themselves from spiritual darkness. The festival is celebrated in October or November, alternating from year to year depending on the position of the moon.

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What to do on Diwali

  • Make a Rangoli

    Ragnoli is an ancient art perfected by those who celebrate Diwali. Rangolis are usually made out of rice, flower, coloured sand, or flower petals, and are displayed on the floors of homes and businesses. Specific designs are often passed down between generations, making creating rangolis a special part of Diwali that many people look forward to each year. They are said to provide the gods with a warm welcome, and help to make homes festive, welcoming, and prosperous.
  • Take Part in Lakshmi Puja

    Lakshmi Puja takes place on the third and most widely-celebrated day of Diwali. On this night, it is believed that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, roams the earth to bring prosperity. Because of this, it is customary to keep windows and even doors open in order to invite her inside your house. Other ways to celebrate Lakshmi Puja include placing diya lights on windowsills, wearing a new or formal outfit, visiting friends and relatives, and exchanging gifts.
  • Light Diyas & Candles

    A diya is a celebratory lamp, usually made from clay and lit with vegetable oil or ghee. During Diwali, diyas are lit and placed in window sills as a way to welcome the goddess Lakshmi into homes. As it is believed that a visit from Lakshmi will bring happiness and prosperity in the coming year, lighting diyas and other candles are an important part of celebrating Diwali!
  • Get Mehndi

    Dating back to ancient India, Mehndi is a form of body art worn during special Hindu celebrations such as weddings, and, of course, Diwali! Traditional patterns usually resemble the sun, since Mendhi usually represents the “inner and outer sun.” If you’re lucky, you may even be invited to a Mendhi party, where groups of people gather to help each other apply the intricate patterns on their hands and feet.
  • Offer Sweets & Gifts

    Diwali is also a time for friends and family to gather and appreciate one another! If you find yourself celebrating Diwali, you’ll probably be on the receiving end of some festive goodies from friends. As Diwali is associated with prosperity, gift-giving is a major part of Diwali. In fact, it’s one of the biggest shopping periods in India! If in doubt about what to give a loved one during this holiday, keep in mind that the purpose of gift-giving during Diwali is to invoke a feeling of love, affection, and appreciation.
  • Admire the fireworks

    One of the most vibrant and exciting parts of Diwali are the fireworks! Since Diwali is the festival of light, thousands  of fireworks are lit in celebration. If you’re celebrating Diwali, you absolutely must make a point to experience a firework demonstration. However, note that in some urban areas of India, restrictions on fireworks are increasing in an effort to combat pollution.

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Celebration of Diwali

Locals celebrate by holding family gatherings, setting off fireworks, hanging strings of lights, lining up clay lamps, holding bonfires, and sharing sweet treats, all in honour of Lakshmi, the divine Goddess of Wealth. During Diwali, it’s common to see neighbourhoods overrun with beautiful lanterns. Some strong believers even keep their doors and windows open to welcome Lakshmi into their homes.

As Diwali takes place over a 5 day period, each of these sacred days has a specific purpose or tradition. 

Day 1: Dhanteras

Dhanteras, also known as Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanvantari Trayodashi. This is a day for cleaning and preparing for the celebrations to come. Lakshmi Puja is celebrated in the evening, and homes are decorated with lanterns, lights, and Rangoli designs. Dhanteras is also a major shopping day, as it is believed that new wealth is a sign of good luck to come. 

Day 2: Naraka Chaturdasi

Naraka Chaturdasi is the day symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. Some families offer food to their ancestors, wake up early, and wear new or newly-cleaned clothes to have a large breakfast with their families. Bring an empty stomach on this day: many people will be making sweets or rice dishes called Poha. 

Day 3: Diwali

The height of the festival, day three is all about family. Young people visit the eldest members of their families and community to show their respect, and families gather for large feasts. While Diwali is generally a large shopping holiday, on this day many business are either closed or shut early to ensure that employees can also have time with their families. Enjoy the food, gifts, and lights everywhere you look!

Day 4: Govardhan Puja

Govardhan Puja sees the preparation of a large amount of vegetarian food to the Hindu God Bhagwan Shri Krishna, as a display of gratitude. A “mountain” of food is prepared, which is meant to symbolize Bhagwan Shri Krishna lifting a mountain to provide villagers shelter from a monsoon. 

Day 5: Bhai Duj

During Bhai Duj, brothers customarily give gifts to sisters, while sisters prepare a meal for their brothers including their favourite dishes. If a woman does not have a brother, they pay worship to the moon god. As with many other aspects of Diwali, this day is dedicated to appreciating family, but especially siblings.

Diwali Facts

  • What is Diwali?

    Diwali is India’s largest and most widely celebrated Hindu holiday of the year and is also known as the “festival of lights.” The festival gets its name from the rows of clay lamps that Indians light outside their homes to protect themselves from spiritual darkness.
  • Why is Diwali celebrated?

    It is believed that on the day of Diwali, the god Rama returned to his people after fourteen years in exile. During his time in exile, he defeated the demon king Ravana. The festival celebrates victory of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance, and is a highlight of the year for many Hindu people in which gifts are exchanged and family time is prioritized.
  • When is Diwali?

    The festival is celebrated in October or November, alternating from year to year (dependent on the position of the moon), and is held over five days.
  • Who celebrates Diwali?

    Diwali is celebrated by people all over the world. While it coincides with the Hindu New Year, not just Hindu people celebrate the festival of lights. You’ll also find Sikh, Jain, and Newar Buddhist people celebrating Diwali, but each day holds a different significance for each religion.
  • Where to celebrate Diwali in India?

    Diwali is celebrated all across India but perhaps the most popular site for travellers to flock to is New Delhi. If you do end up staying in another region of India to celebrate, avoid the state of Kerala as they don’t celebrate this holy day with the same enthusiasm as other regions of the country.
  • What to pack for Diwali?

    If you’re visiting India for Diwali, it is important to consider the culture and dress appropriately. Ensure your shoulders and legs are covered. While cities like Delhi are more westernized, you may still feel more comfortable dressing more conservatively. In addition, consider packing a pair of earplugs and a pollution mask for the fireworks -- your ears and lungs will thank you!

How to Get to Delhi

History of Diwali

The Hindu festival of lights has ancient origins, nearly as old as India itself. Diwali has been celebrated since ancient times and everyone seems to have a different explanation for the events that led to this festival first being held. 
Perhaps one of the better-known origin stories of Diwali can be found in the story of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth who reportedly rose up from the ocean long ago. Hindu scriptures say that both gods and demons were once mortal, and therefore would eventually die, but in their desire to live forever they sought out Amrita, the nectar of immortality. They swirled the waters of the ocean around during their search, and ended up finding several divine objects. One of these sacred finds included Goddess Lakshmi, the daughter of the king of the milky ocean who arose on the new moon day of the Kartik month (the holy month). The Goddess would marry Lord Vishnu the night of her discovery, and in celebration, people lit lamps to mark the occasion.
However, the story of the Goddess Lakshmi is just one of many that claim to be the reason Diwali is celebrated. The origins of this holiday continue to remain a mystery!

Essentials

Dress up in traditional clothes like saris or sherwani
Feel free to participate in the gift-giving customs by offering sweets to your new friends
Average temperatures during Diwali are warm to very hot (with lows of only 19℃), so dress for the weather!
Wear comfortable walking shoes
Watch out for pickpockets
Don’t allow drivers to pressure you or try to convince you to change your accommodations 
Don’t allow local hotels to arrange transportation for you, as in most instances, it will be astronomically expensive
Consider wearing earplugs to protect your hearing — some firecrackers are deafeningly loud

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