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A festival of lights brings together all of India – Diwali or Deepavali is the much-awaited festival and arguably the biggest of all in India. Widely celebrated throughout India by the Hindu diaspora, people from all caste, creed, and religion join in the fun, light-up diyas (small oil lamps) and celebrate together over the five days of the festival.

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Read on to know more about Diwali 2021, the dates, timings, and how different parts of India will be celebrating Diwali amidst a pandemic!

Diwali 2021 dates

Here are the dates of Diwali 2021 along with the timings of different pujas that take place over the 5 days.

Dhanteras: November 2, 2021

Ashvija Krishna Thrayodasi (thirteenth day of the Hindu calendar in the month of Ashvija Krishna ) marks the beginning of the festival of lights. Dhanteras welcomes the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, Devi Laxmi. It is customary to clean the house and perform puja for the Goddess.

Dhanteras is also considered to be a lucky day for buying gold and luxury goods while also offering charity to the underprivileged.

Dhanteras Puja Muhurat – 6:17 PM to 8:11 PM
Pradosh Kaal – 5:35 PM to 8:11 PM
Vrishabha Kaal – 6:18 PM to 8:14 PM

Narak Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali: November 3, 2021

Narak Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali also goes by the name Roop Chaturdashi and Roop Chaudas. On this day, Lord Krishna defeated demon Narakasura, and therefore, people make it a practice to let go of all things bad, evil, or old on this day. Choti Diwali is, in fact, also the main day of the Diwali celebration in most of South India.

Abhyanga Snan – 6:06 AM to 6:34 AM. 

Diwali: November 4, 2021

Lightwork on streets as a part of decoration during the festival of light

Lightwork on streets as a part of decoration during the festival of light – © Pixabay

The third day is the new moon day in the month of Karthik and the main day of celebration in most parts of India as they welcome Lord Rama’s victory and arrival in Ayodhya.

Lakshmi Puja Muhurat: 6:41 PM to 8:25 PM
Pradosh Kaal – 5:57 PM to 8:25 PM
Vrishabh Kaal – 6:41 PM to 8:44 PM

Balipadyami or Govardhan Puja: November 5, 2021

According to the Vikram Samvat calendar, the fourth day of the festival is also a new year day. Known for Pratipada, Govardhan Puja, or Annakut, the legend says that Lord Krishna on this day lifted the Govardhan Hill and provided shelter to local villagers during torrential rains.

Govardhan Puja Pratahkala Muhurat – 6:38 AM to 8:51 AM
Govardhan Puja Sayankala Muhurat – 3:29 PM to 5:42 PM

Bhai Dooj: November 6, 2021

The last day of this five-day celebration ends with a beautiful family moment that honors the sweet bond shared by a brother and sister. Bhai Dooj or Bhratri Ditwiya, also known as Bhau Beej (in Marathi), Bhai Phota (in Bengali), relates to Yama (the God of death) and his sister, Yamuna who put tilak on Yama’s forehead and showered the Akshat on him.

Bhai Dooj Aparahna time – 1:30 PM to 3:46 PM
Dwitiya Tithi from 11:14 PM on November 5 to 7:44 PM on November 6

How is Diwali celebrated in India?

lamps-oil-many-bright-diwali

Lighting lamps or diyas is a central part of Diwali celebrations © Pickpik

Celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November), Diwali is the “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”, even as different parts of India celebrate it in the belief of numerous legends. The most commonly accepted legend, particularly in North India, is the homecoming of Lord Rama along with wife Sita, brother Lakshman, and Hanuman, to Ayodhya after he rose victorious over Ravana.

During the festival of lights, devotees worship Goddess Lakshmi, and since no celebration is deemed concluded without invoking Lord Ganesha, both of them are worshipped side by side. The puja is followed by the distribution of sweets and gifts among relatives, neighbors, and friends.

Houses are adorned with new goods, thus making shopping a must-do affair before Diwali. Online stores and shopping malls come up with Diwali offers and these are deals not to be missed! Jewelry, crockery, home decor, etc. get a makeover during this festive season as people also buy gifts for friends and families.

Streets glow up with spectacular lightings, all around you’ll see decorations of garlands, rangolis, and candles. Sparklers and an assortment of crackers are burst, adding to the illuminated environment during Amavasya (new moon). Such is the enthusiasm in the air!

Best places to visit in India for Diwali 2021

Diwali lighting of diyas

Lighting diyas during Diwali is a tradition – © Wikimedia Commons

Diwali is the time when you go home to your family and loved ones; when you buy gifts for each other, light diyas and phuljadhis (sparklers) with the kids in the house. But in some cities and states in India, these pan-India celebrations reach the all-time-high, the grandest form, that calls for a must-visit! Below we have listed Diwali celebrations in some Indian cities where the fervor is electric and welcoming!

Note: The list below takes into account mandatory home quarantine restrictions for domestic travelers in 2021. Since Diwali is just around the corner, it does not enlist places that require a mandatory quarantine for 14 days. If the quarantine regulations are stopping you from going back home, here’s how you can celebrate Diwali at places even away from home.

Jaipur, Rajasthan

One of the best places to visit during Diwali is undoubtedly the Pink City of India, Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan. The glitzy decorations on MI Road, Nehru Bazaar, Johari Bazar, Tripolia Bazaar, Statue Circle, and Bapu Bazaar, among others, are a feat to behold!

And most definitely you cannot miss out on Rajasthani sweets! Want a view that takes your breath away? Visit the Nahargarh fort and watch the whole royal city below lit up in the shimmering lights of diyas on Diwali night!

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Kolkata, West Bengal

Kali Puja in West Bengal

Kali Puja in West Bengal during Diwali – © Wikimedia Commons

The City of Joy sure has its way with celebrations and festivals! Diwali in Kolkata is synonymous with the worship of Goddess Kali, an avatar of Devi Durga. So, the Bengali community celebrates Diwali as Kali Puja and go pandal hopping to enjoy the expert craftsmanship that these idols and marquees are a testimony to.

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Bangalore, Karnataka

Diwali in Karnataka takes its own unique form of celebration as in South India, Deepavali marks the demise of asura Narakasura in the hands of Lord Krishna. And as commemoration, people had celebrated Krishna’s return and welcomed him back with lights.

One of the most noteworthy uniqueness of Diwali in Karnataka is the ritualistic oil-bath in the early morning. In coastal parts of the state, people also observe Balipadyami, a worship for King Bali.

Karnataka celebrates Diwali a day ahead of Diwali in North India but in the year 2020, the time of the festival is the same in both parts of the country. Additionally, this year, the state has also introduced a ban on all fireworks except ‘green crackers’.

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Amritsar, Punjab

The Sikh community in Amritsar celebrate Diwali as  Bandi Chhor Divas. The ever-so-stunning Golden temple dazzles all the way more in the light of Diwali, all decked up in golden lights, candles, and diyas. Witnessing the spectacular celebration here in Amritsar is a one-of-a-kind of experience you might not get elsewhere in India!

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COVID-19 restrictions for Diwali 2021

India’s Covid-19 incidences have recently decreased since the country has considerably increased the vaccine process. States have lifted restrictions and published SOPs ahead of the holiday season in light of the epidemic and decreased Covid-19 incidence. Furthermore, the federal government has instructed states to avoid big crowds during the approaching festival season.

The following is a list of states that have relaxed their prohibitions:

Delhi

The Delhi government has made it illegal to celebrate Chhat Puja in public places like as parks, temples, and river banks. Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Chief Minister and the head of the Aam Aadmi Party, tweeted on Twitter on October 14, 2021 that he has persuaded the Delhi LG to allow the Chhatth Puja festivities to take place in November this year.

With permission from the district magistrates, the government has allowed Ramlila and Durga Puja celebrations in districts with a positivity rate of 5% or less. In confined settings, a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons is permitted.

Karnataka

In places with a 1% Covid-19 positive rate, the Karnataka state government has authorised 100 percent occupancy in movie halls and pubs starting in October. Additionally, filmgoers must have at least one dosage of the vaccination.

Kerala

For hotels, restaurants, and pubs with a capacity of 50% or more, the Kerala government has approved in-house eating. The mandate said that all employees should be completely immunised. Furthermore, for persons who have received both doses of the anti-coronavirus vaccination, indoor stadiums and swimming pools can be opened.

Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s health minister, Rajesh Tope, said the state would consider allowing persons with single Covid-19 vaccination injections to ride on local trains and access malls. In the Aarogya Setu mobile app, their status is displayed as safe depending on herd immunity. People who have had a single shot are now prohibited from entering malls and trains, but if everyday instances remain under control until Diwali, greater leeway will be granted.

Uttar Pradesh

In preparation for Diwali, the Uttar Pradesh government released instructions, urging people to maintain law and order of social distancing and compulsory usage of masks as well as communal harmony throughout the festival season.

Gujarat

In eight cities across Gujarat, the state government has eased the Covid night curfew by one hour. The constraints have been relaxed: weddings can now have 400 guests instead of the previous maximum of 150, and funerals can now have 100 guests instead of the previous limit of 40. In addition, instead of the previous restriction of 60%, the government has enabled hotels and restaurants to use 75% of their seating capacity. The government has moved the closing time of public parks from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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