The customs of celebrating Diwali, the festival of light vary from region to region. Though the theme of Diwali is universal, ie, the triumph of Good over Evil, the Darkness paving way for Light and Ignorance leading to Knowledge. With warmer days turning into a mild winter, the fun-filled Deepavali, is celebrated for five days from Krishna Chaturdashi to Kaartik Shukla Dwiteeya. Diwali is observed by Hindus, Sikhs & Jains, each community celebrating Diwali for different reasons.
Days before Diwali, people start decorating their homes, preparing sweets, light up their homes with colorful lights, buy new clothes & Jewelry. But in some Indian regions the rituals of Diwali starts off two days before Danteras, ie the first day of Diwali. Such festival are:
Agyaras: The Patels and the Vaishnavs begin their Diwali celebrations before Dhan Teras, on the 11th day of Ashwin. The day is devoted to preparing the choicest 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.
Throughout India, the first day of Diwali is widely known as Dhanteras. This day is celebrated to revere Dhanavantri, the physician of the gods, and Goddess Laxmi. Dhanteras is also known by various other names such as:
Dhanatrayodashi: Dhantrayodashi a special ritual is accomplished which is called Deepdaan. In it lamps are lit for every individual in the family and ancestors and they are floated in a river or pond.
Yamadeepdaan: In India, the festival of Dhanteras is also known as Yamadeepdaan. This name is associated with Sixteen-year old son of King Hima was doomed to die but the dedication of his young wife made Yam, the God of Death, return back.
Dhan Teyras: On Dhan Teyras, fast is kept and the worship is done by lighting an earthen lamp on the main entrance of the house and offering water, vermilion, rice, jaggery and flowers to Yamaraj.
Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi / Dhantheran: In few South Indian States this festival is known as Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi or Dhantheran. This day is marked by buying new utensils and silver/gold items.
In every Indian household, the second day is celebrated with the lighting of 5-7 deep (Diyas) on the door and corners. It is 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.
Narkachaturdashi: Celebrated in all South Indian states, God Yama is worshiped on this day to get over the fear of demon Narakasura. People make an effigy of Narakasura, and burn it. Later, they take bath and burst crackers.
Roop Chaturdashi: In all north Indian States, the second day of Diwali is also known as Roop Chaturdashi. On this day, 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 Narakaasura, decoration of house by rangolis, oil lamps and celebration with fire crakers.
Accompanied by the exchange of sweets and the explosion of fireworks, the third day of Diwali as 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: Diwali is synonymous with laxmi pujan. Houses are decorated, Goddess laxmi is worshiped and the women do "aarti" to their husbands, while praying for his long life.
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.
Deva Divali: Among Jains, Diwali is known as Deva Divali. It is on this day that Lord Mahavira is worshiped, sacred scriptures are recited and homes and temples are illuminated.
Sukhsuptika: Among the Kashmiri Pandit, the festival of lights is known as Sukhsuptika, which literally means sleep with happiness.
Kaumudi Mahostavam: 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 light, flowers and paper chains.
Balindra Pooja: Diwali is also known as Balindra Pooja in many South Indian States. In the morning, a pooja offering oil to Krishna is performed.
Karthigai Deepam: On 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 pujan of their new ledgers. This is known as Sharda Pujan.
Bandi Chhor Diwas: Diwali is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Divas by Sikhs throughout India. The story of Divali for the Sikhs is a story of the Sikh struggle for freedom.
Diyari: The festival of Diwali is known as Diyari among the Sindhis. They celebrate this festival by performing puja to Goddess Lakmi.
The fourth day of Diwali falls on the first day of the lunar New Year. At this time, it is new year for most of the Hindus, while for other on this day old business accounts are settled and new books are opened. The fourth day is known as:
Goverdhan puja: Govardhan Puja is an occasion to worship Lord Krishna and Govardhan Parbat or Mount Govardhan, near Mathura.
Bestavarsh: The fourth day is celebrated as new year and the families celebrate it by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewelery and visiting family members.
Gudi Padava: 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 Vikaram-Samvat was started from this Padwa day.
Annakoot: On the fourth day, Annakoot 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 Padyam / Bali Pratipada: In Karnataka and other states, the fourth day is celebrated as Bali Paadyami or Bali Pratipada, commemorating the annual visit of demon king Bali to his subjects on Earth.
Muharat Pujan: All business establishments and families perform muharat pujan or veneration of their books.
The fifth day of Diwali is widely known as Bhai dooj or Bhatri Ditya, 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 among the Marathi speaking community.
Bhai-Tika: The last day of Diwali is known as Bhai Tika in Nepal. Also known as brother and sister day, sister pray to Yamraja 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 Bhayyaduj 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.