49 Interesting Facts About Diwali

Last updated on June 23rd, 2023

“Diwali,” which is also referred to as Deepavali and Divali, is an important festival in India that is mainly celebrated by the Hindus. It is also known as the festival of light. Every year, the date of this festival is calculated by the Hindu lunar calendar. It was celebrated on 24th October in 2022 and falls on 12th November in 2023. With these facts about Diwali, let us learn more about this festival of lights which brings prosperity, joy, health, happiness and a lot more in the lives of people. 

49 Interesting facts about Diwali

1. Diwali is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the Hindu month of Kartika. Hinduism is a major religion of India, and is considered to be the oldest religion in the world.

2. The name Diwali is derived from the rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) that people light outside their houses and temples as a symbol of the internal light that protects against spiritual darkness. For Hindus, Diwali is important akin to how Christmas is to Christians. However, over the centuries Diwali has morphed into a national celebration that’s celebrated by even non-Hindu communities.

3. More than 800 million people celebrate this festival in various ways. During the festivities, Hindus outside India visit mandirs (their places of worship) to give offerings to deities, and to share food.

Clay Diya lamps lit during Diwali
Clay Diya lamps lit during Diwali. Photo © Siam Pukkato

4. It is celebrated in honor of Goddess Lakshmi – the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity.

5. The dates for Diwali change every year based on the moon’s position, but the holiday is usually celebrated in October and November.

6. The first day of Diwali is designated for buying small gold items and cleaning the homes. Besides, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on that day. On the second day, which celebrates the obliteration of Narakasura by Krishna, people offer prayers for their ancestors’ souls. On the third day, families seek Goddess Lakshmi’s blessings to ensure their success; set off fireworks and light diyas; and visit temples. This is the festival’s main day. The fourth day marks the first day of the year in the Hindu calendar. Besides, it commemorates Krishna’s triumph over Indra.

7. The festival also marks the return of the Lord Rama and Sita after completing fourteen years in exile.

8. The festival signifies the victory of light over darkness.

A cheerful indian family.
Facts about Diwali: a cheerful Indian family during festive shopping.

9. Diwali also marks a major shopping festival in the places where it is celebrated. There are special discounts and offers that businesses provide to their customers. Buying new things during this festival is considered to be good.

10. As part of the Diwali celebration, people get to visit each other, exchange gifts, feast, feed the poor, and set off fireworks.

11. It is the most famous, biggest and brightest festival of India, and is celebrated for five days.

12. It is a national holiday in India, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Mauritius, Guyana, Singapore, Suriname, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Fiji. And is an optional holiday in Pakistan.

13. During the Diwali festival, windows and doors are left unlocked with the hope that Lakshmi will enter the houses and bless the occupants with success and wealth.

14. On the same night that Diwali is celebrated, Jains celebrate a festival of lights to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavira.

15. Oil and light lamps are used in high numbers in and around peoples’ houses and properties to celebrate the festival. The festival commemorates the lighting that was done to bring Lord Rama and his wife Sita from the forest of Ayodhya.

Beautiful & colourful Rangoli during Diwali
Beautiful & colourful Rangoli during Diwali. Photo © Subhrajyoti Parida

16. Diyas light the houses; fireworks illuminate the skies and rangoli decorates the outside Hindu homes. They do this to attract Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune. Floors inside as well as outside homes are coated with rangoli, which consists of intricate designs made of flower petals, sand, or colored rice.

17. Traditional diyas (light lamps) used during Diwali are earthen lamps, although plastic and metallic diyas have also become available recently. These diyas are filled with ghee or oil, and a cotton wick is used to bear the flame.

18. And the diyas are left burning all night.

Colorful clay diya lamps lit during diwali celebration.
Facts about Diwali: colorful clay diya lamps lit during diwali celebration.

19. Sikhs also celebrate Diwali, as it marks the release of their guruji – Guru Hargobind Sahibji – and 52 other kings and princess of India that were made captives by the mogul emperor Shah Jahan.

20. It is a tradition to clean the house, making it spotless before entering the New Year.

21. Businesses also start new accounting books, and farmers end the harvest season. The festival also signals the onset of winter.

Indian sweets or Mithai for diwali

22. The Diwali celebration brings along special culinary delights that are prepared for the festivities. The Dishes include the sweet and fudgy, Sheera, which is made from nuts, saffron, semolina, and raisins as well as the creamy, Kheer, which is made of rice and sago and combined with lentil vadas.

23. As part of the Diwali celebrations, paintings or statues of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh are placed side by side for rituals and prayers. Typically, people worship Lord Ganesh before Goddess Lakshmi.

Kali the Goddess
Kali the Goddess. Image credit – Vinoth Chandar

24. How Diwali is observed differs based on tradition and region. For instance, in the northern part of India, People celebrate the legend of the return of King Rama after defeating Ravana by lighting rows of lamps. Conversely, in the west, the light festival commemorates the time when Lord Vishnu (one of the major Hindu gods) sent King Bali, the demon, to rule the world of the dead.

25. Diwali is also celebrated in honor of the marriage of the Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. And it also marks the triumph of the Lord Krishna over the demon Naraka. Hindus in Bengal honor the fearsome Goddess Kali on the occasion of Diwali.

26. The English city of Leicester hosts the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India.

27. “Shubh Deepavali” is a customary greeting associated with Diwali. It means, “Have an auspicious diwali”.

A statue of Lord Ganesha
A statue of Lord Ganesha. Image credit – myriad ways

28. The most ubiquitous and popular Diwali tradition is the setting of fireworks. The addition of that tradition to Diwali celebrations is, however, recent. Until the 1900s, pyrotechnics and firecrackers were prohibitively expensive and thus only available to royals.

29. Sivakasi, a town in Southern India, is the largest producer of fireworks in India. It produces about 90 percent of the fireworks in India.

30. During the festival of Diwali, fireworks worth millions of dollars are ignited. These fireworks cause a lot of pollution, which is a particularly life hazard for those living in densely populated areas such as the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in India. Fireworks produce a variety of pollutants affecting sound, light, air and water.

31. These fireworks cause health hazards such as respiratory issues, heart attacks, high blood pressure and many more. Moreover, fireworks during Diwali also cause safety hazards to the children handling them. Many of these firecrackers burst near children, causing them direct injuries. Hence, necessary precautions must be taken during the festival season, and a more environmentally friendly way of celebrating the festival should be adopted in the coming years.

fireworks diwali night
Photo © Carlosphotos

32. Electricity consumption also rises significantly during the festival season, which results in heavy use of diesel generators to meet the demand for power. In turn, more pollution is caused due to the burning of fossil fuels.

33. Although Diwali is not a major festival in Buddhism, some Buddhists celebrate it to commemorate the time, in the 3rd Century BCE, when Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism.

34. Diwali presents a rare peaceful moment for India and Pakistan. In the last seven decades, the two countries have gone to war over three times. However, during Diwali, the soldiers on both warring sides put aside the hostilities, meet, and even share sweets with their counterparts.

Now let us learn how this festival of lights is celebrated across different regions in India

35. In some parts of India, particularly in the northern region, Diwali is celebrated to honor the bond between brothers and sisters, known as Bhai Dooj. On Bhai Dooj, with the tika put on the brother’s forehead, the sister vows to protect her brother from any evil at all costs. However, on Raksha Bandhan a sacred thread is tied on the brother’s hand symbolizing the promise of a brother to safeguard his sister from all threats and evil forces. This is what differentiates Bhai Dooj and Raksha Bandhan. 

36. In Maharashtra, Diwali celebrations begin with “Vasu Baras,” where married women worship cows and calves, seeking blessings for their families.

diwali celebrations. facts about diwali
Photo © Avishek Das

37. Diwali is celebrated as the start of a new business year in Gujarat. It is common for business owners to perform “Chopda Pujan” to seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi for prosperous ventures.

38. In Nepal, Diwali is known as “Tihar” and is celebrated with unique traditions such as worshiping cows, crows, and dogs.

39. In the southern state of Karnataka, Diwali is celebrated as “Naraka Chaturdashi” or “Choti Diwali.” It commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura.

40. In Jaipur, Rajasthan, Diwali is celebrated with a unique tradition called “Mogra Mata ki Seva.” People offer garlands of mogra (jasmine) flowers to the deity, seeking her blessings for happiness and prosperity.

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