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Your Guide to Celebrating Diwali in India

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most popular and widely celebrated festivals in India. This celebration takes place over five days and is met with great enthusiasm and joy all over the country, as it symbolises the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.

Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about celebrating Diwali in India.

How are the five days of Diwali celebrated?

Each day of the five-day festival has its own significance and rituals.

Day One

The first day, known as Dhanteras, is dedicated to worshipping the goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi. On this day, in order to attract good fortune, people may tidy up their homes or go out to buy gold and kitchen utensils.

Day Two

Day two, named Choti Diwali, is when people light diyas (earthen lamps) and decorate their homes with rangolis (colourful patterns made with coloured powder).

Day Three

The main day of Diwali is celebrated by lighting diyas and candles, bursting firecrackers, sharing sweets and gifts with family and friends, and offering prayers to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha.

Day Four

The fourth day, known as Govardhan Puja, is when people worship Lord Krishna. This day is considered the first of the new year, with friends and family gathering to exchange gifts and best wishes for the season.

Day Five

The final day of Diwali is known as Bhaj Dooj and is commemorated by siblings (typically brothers visiting their married sisters) coming together to celebrate their bond with gifts and mouth-watering feasts.

What is the cultural significance of Diwali?

The festival has great significance all over India but the event has different meaning depending on where in India you find yourself.

Northern India

In the northern parts of the country Diwali celebrates the story of King Rama’s triumphant return to Ayodhya following the defeat of Ravana using rows of lit clay lamps.

Southern India

In the southern regions, Diwali is an observation of the day that Lord Krishna slayed his way to victory over the demon Narakasura.

Western India

Western India uses Diwali to commemorate the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver and one of the three primary Hindu gods, banished the demon King Bali to the nether world.

Where to celebrate Diwali in India?

Varanasi, India


Varanasi, one of India's most revered pilgrimage sites, is known for its grand Diwali celebrations. Begin your journey with a holy dip in the Ganges River, then join the festivities where the celebration reaches a whole new level. The streets come alive with the sound of firecrackers, and a vibrant energy fills the air all night long. For the best view, head to the Ganges riverbanks and take in the stunning display.

Mumbai, India


This city is known for its vibrant activity and celebrations, and even more so during Diwali. Today, Mumbai takes an eco-friendly approach to the festivities, so instead of firecrackers, you’ll see people joining in by proudly decorating streets and homes, while famous landmarks such as the Gateway of India are lit up during the Festival of Lights.

Jaipur, India


Nicknamed ‘the pink city’ for its incredible building colour scheme, the city transforms into a mesmerising wonderland of lights and colour during Diwali. Markets are adorned with flowing decorations while the shimmering lakes reflect the fireworks and lights, creating an enchanting atmosphere for the holiday season. For a breathtaking view, we recommend heading to the Nahargarh Fort to see the city illuminated by fireworks.

Kolkata, India


On the main day of Diwali, Kolkata celebrates Kali, the goddess of destruction. The city is home to several temples dedicated to the goddess which attract large crowds during this time of year. Although a ‘goddess of destruction’ may sound bad, Kali is actually worshipped for her ability to destroy egos and illusions. Earthen lamps, dazzling lights, candles, and fireworks light up the City of Joy, with huge displays of Kali put on across the city.

Goa, India


In Goa, Diwali festivities revolve around the triumph of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. In preparation, competitions are held statewide to determine who can create the largest and most frightening effigy of the demon. These effigies are burned at dawn on Narakasura Chaturdashi, which takes place the day before the main Diwali celebrations.

Diwali is also considered a favourable time to spend money shopping and gambling so you’ll find casinos in Goa are very popular during this time. Goa is world-famous for its floating casinos including the Deltin Royale - Asia’s largest offshore casino. We recommend booking in advance as it is extremely popular this time of year!

Quick Tips Before You Travel to India

Quick Tips Before You Travel to India

  • If you’re planning on visiting major monuments during your trip, you will want to arrive early as this holiday is quite popular for domestic tourism
  • This holiday is renowned for fireworks day and night so you may want to bring earplugs for a good night’s sleep
  • Around a third of the population can speak English to some extent, but depending on where you are in the country, this may be much lower
  • To drive in India, you will need an International Driving Permit and an Australian driver’s licence
  • Australian Citizens need a visa to India, which you can apply for online
  • ATMs are available in major airports, large cities, and tourist hotspots major, however, if you’re planning on visiting a more rural area, it’s a good idea to carry some cash
  • Tipping is customary in India. Service charges in restaurants are generally included in your bill (capped at 10%), while tipping is generally expected by hotel porters, drivers, and other service workers

Budgeting for India

Your daily budget will depend on what you plan to do and should include accommodation, food and drinks, and transport. Set aside some extra money for additional activities you’d like to partake in including museum visits, wine tasting, and private tours.

A rough guide is 4287 Indian rupees (approx $80AUD) per person per day. You can purchase Rupees in cash online and collect at your nearest Travelex store or at your local Australia Post office before you leave.