How to celebrate Deepavali/Diwali festival | Pooja procedure and story.

Diwali/Deepavali is one of the most important Hindu festivals. Deep means lamp and vali mean array. Hence it is known as the Festival of Lights. In South India, it is known as Deepavali and in North India, it is known as Diwali.

Deepavali Festival Celebration by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains:

For Hindus around the world, the Deepavali celebration is about the victory of good over evil, purity over impurity, light over darkness.

Diwali is celebrated by Sikhs as Bandhi Chhor Diwas, celebrating the return of their sixth Guru (teacher) Hargobind by lighting with lamps and decorating the Golden Temple.

The founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavira attained Moksha on the day of Diwali. Jains celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps to symbolize to keep Lord Mahavira’s preachings alive. They observe fasting for three days around this time. Prayers from Mahavira’s teachings are recited on this day. It also marks the birth of a new year for Jains.

Note: Moksha means liberation from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

Diwali Celebration in North India:

It takes place on the first night of the new moon in the month of Kartik according to the Hindu calendar. In North India, Dhanteras marks the beginning of the five-day festival of Diwali. It starts two days before the actual festival. On this day, people worship and welcome Goddess Lakshmi in their homes by performing Lakshmi Pooja for wealth and prosperity.  It is considered to be an auspicious day to buy gold, silver, or copper utensils.

Different interesting story versions and names relating to Diwali:

It is believed that on the third day of the new moon in the month Kartik, Lord Rama rescued His wife Sita from the demon Ravana.  Lamps are lit to rejoice in His victory in winning the battle against Ravana and welcoming Lord Rama after a long exile. 

In some parts of India, the celebration takes place differently by enacting the scenes of Mahabharatha, as there is a belief that the great Mahabharatha war started on the day of Diwali. 
The fourth day of Diwali is known as Govardhan Pooja or Annakut (means mountain of food).  It is believed that on this day, Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill to give shelter to the local villagers from torrential rains. People thank Lord Krishna for His benevolence by preparing large quantities of delicious food and take it to temples to celebrate the beginning of the New Year, as it is the first day of the New Year in the Vikram Samvat calendar, known as Pratipada.

The fifth day of the Diwali festival is known as Bhai Bij, to celebrate the relationship between brothers and sisters.

In Goa and Maharashtra, Deepavali is known by the name Bhau Beej.

It was on the day of Deepavali, the demon king Mahabali was subdued by Lord Vishnu and sent to the netherworlds, after taking the cosmic form of a small boy, Vamana. Assuming this form Vamana, He measured the three worlds which He had asked for alms from the demon king Mahabali.  This is known as Balipratipada.

Deepali festival is a time for rejoicing among families, friends, and business associates by exchanging gifts and sweets.  All over India, streets and temples are decorated with colorful light displays and garlands. People light small oil lamps and burst crackers in their homes.

Deepavali Celebration in South India:

Deepavali is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aipasi, on Naraka Chaturdasi thithi, a day before Amavasyai. It is believed that Lord Krishna killed the demon Naragasura on this day. Deepavali in South India is considered to signify the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura on the day of Chaturdasi.

In Karnataka, people believe that Lord Krishna took an oil bath to remove the bloodstains from His body after killing the demon Narakasura.  To cleanse from the effect of all evil, people in Karnataka follow the tradition of taking an oil bath on Deepavali and worship Goddess Lakshmi by performing Lakshmi pooja. The women paint colorful Rangolis in their houses.

In Andra Pradesh and Telangana, they worship Goddess Lakshmi, wear traditional dresses, and burst crackers. They visit relatives and give them gifts. In many areas in Andra Pradesh, the story of Lord Hari is narrated in the form of Harikatha which is in the form of musical narration.
In Kerala, Onam, Vishu are the important festivals celebrated with great enthusiasm. Deepavali is a subdued festival in Kerala.

Deepavali Celebrations in Tamil Nadu:

Deepavali is a one day festival in Tamil Nadu. Lighting lamps are observed only on the Karthikai festival.  Deepavali is celebrated to mark the death of the demon Narakasura. It is believed that Lord Krishna after killing the demon massaged with oil and bathed in hot water.

Reasons behind the celebration of Deepavali Festival:

During his death, Narakasura requested that people should celebrate the victory of good over evil by wearing new clothes, bursting crackers, and distributing sweets. So this custom is being followed. 

Deepavali celebrations at Home:

People clean the houses, draw kolam with Kaavi in the front yard. The oven is cleaned and kolam with rice flour is drawn over it and is used to prepare hot water for an oil bath.   Incense sticks and lamps are lighted in the pooja room.  Kolam is drawn in the pooja room and decorated with flower garlands. Kolam with rice flour is drawn on a wooden plank.  New dresses and crackers are placed on a tray on the wooden plank in the pooja room.  Chandan and kumkum are applied to the edges of the new dresses.  Oil is placed in a vessel, a cup of sweets, a cup of mixture, Deepavali Marundu (Legium) in a small bowl are placed on a tray in the pooja room.

On the day of Deepavali, people get up early in the morning before sunrise and have an oil bath traditionally referred to as “Ganga Snanam”.  Deepavali starts by eating a spoon of Legium on an empty stomach immediately after the traditional oil bath.  After having an oil bath, people wear new dresses and burst crackers.  Sweets are exchanged between friends and relatives.  Youngsters take blessings from elders.

Laddu, Almond Barfi, Jangiri, Halwa, and Gulab Jamun are some of the popular sweets and snacks which include different varieties of Murukku, Mixture, Thenkuzhal and Vellai Appam (a crispy and a savory deep-fried breakfast delicacy) are prepared during Deepavali.

Thalai Deepavali is a ritual in South India. Parents welcome the newly married daughter and son-in-law to their house for the first Deepavali after their daughter’s marriage. They invite them for a grand lunch which includes Vadai and Payasam (Kheer) and gifts them new dresses.

Note: Reasons for using Seasame for Oil Bath:

It is said that we are supposed to pray to Lord Vishnu while taking an oil bath.   It is believed that Goddess Mahalakshmi is said to have hidden behind a sesame tree, which is the reason for using sesame oil for oil bath. Oil bath symbolically implies a new beginning by removing ego and jealousy. Sesame oil is considered beneficial to reduce heat from the body. 

Deepavali Marundhu (legium) is a traditional item prepared during Deepavali to help easier digestion, avoiding digestive disorders while eating an oily variety of snacks and sweets.

It is also believed that the God of death Yama visited his sister the Yamuna on this day. Hence this day is known as Yama Dwitiya.

Check out our other Indian festival story and pooja procedure. 


The story, instructions, and pooja procedures behind the Diwali/Deepavali mentioned in this post are completely based on our family tradition. This is how we perform our Diwali festival at home and the main reason for this post is to keep an online record for myself and for our future generations. I also would like to share the same with our family members and friends for reference. I'm sure this post would be useful if you are performing the Diwali pooja every year. You may share this post with anyone. Thank you for understanding!!!

Learn how to celebrate Diwali/Deepavali and the pooja procedure.

Authors: Revathi & Pavithra