How to Celebrate Diwali With Your Family

Family celebrating Diwali

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Family traditions and annual celebrations make up an important part of special, lifelong holiday memories. When you become a parent, you may observe many of the same holiday traditions you grew up with, but you may also want to create new ones. Perhaps you have always celebrated Diwali, perhaps your partner comes from a different background than you, or perhaps you adopted a child with a different cultural or religious history, and you'd like to pay homage to their roots.

Diwali is a festival of lights celebrated in parts of Asia, the Caribbean, and by members of the diaspora. There are many fun ways to honor the celebration with your family this fall season whether you grew up observing Diwali or it is a holiday you would like to learn more about.

What Is Diwali?

Diwali, or Deepavali, is the most important holiday in India. This five-day festival of lights was originally a Hindu celebration, but it has grown and is now observed by Jains, Sikhs, and even Buddhists in India and other parts of Asia.

The festivities start with house cleaning and buying small gold items, followed by a day of decoration. On this second day, families hang clay lamps in their homes which are lit each evening of Diwali (the word Diwali means “hanging lamps”). They also create patterns and designs on the ground made with colored sand known as rangoli.

The third day of Diwali is devoted to prayer, food preparation, and feasting. Worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, also takes place on this day.

The new year officially begins on day four, and families gather together to recite mantras and exchange gifts. Day four also celebrates the love between married couples. The last day of Diwali is devoted to visiting siblings who now live in different households.

Diwali’s primary theme is good’s triumph over evil. Depending on the geographical location, a different symbolic story is told to honor this theme. These stories all feature a hero defeating a demon.

When Is It Celebrated?

Diwali is celebrated over five days during the Fall season. The exact dates vary each year, and may occur in October or November. According to India’s calendar, which aligns with the moon's phases, Diwali begins on the 15th day of the eighth month, a new moon day.

Why Is It Celebrated?

Diwali is celebrated to welcome in the new year. The house cleaning, decorations, and prayer help to prepare observers for a fresh start and a prosperous year to come. The lights and family gatherings are a special time to come together with loved ones. 

Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Diwali 

There are many ways to bring Diwali celebrations into your home this fall whether you are observing this holiday for the first or fiftieth time.

Deep Cleaning as Family Fun

Start Diwali off with a group effort to get your home spic and span. Organize into teams or divide and conquer. Make it fun by playing music and singing at the top of your lungs while cleaning.

Music traditionally associated with Diwali includes Bollywood music or Punjab dance music. As Diwali celebrates the New Year and the triumph of good over evil, this traditional, celebratory music is a great choice to put on while cleaning as a family.

Create Rangoli

Rangoli refers to designs on the ground made with colorful sand, rice, or flower petals. Rangoli is believed to ward off evil spirits and it was traditionally created as symmetrical designs made with white and brick red powders.

Purchase colored sand and put it into plastic bags with a small corner cut off. Work together to decorate parts of your yard or the sidewalk out front. Colored chalk is a good alternative, too.

Family Shopping Trip

The first day of Diwali is for cleaning and shopping. Observers buy new clothes or household items in hope that this will bring them good fortune. Take a family trip to the mall or thrift shop to pick up some new things for each family member. 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or buy just to buy. Think along the lines of a new outfit for each child or that new set of pots and pans you have been meaning to replace. 

Visit Family Members

The last day of Diwali is dedicated to visiting siblings who no longer live in the same household. Invite your own siblings over or bring your family over to their house to enjoy a meal and some special time together. Let your kids soak up bonding time with their aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

Recite Mantras

Hindus recite mantras to the goddess Lakshmi. These mantras generally ask for good fortune, wealth, youth, and beauty. If you or your loved ones are Hindu, practice reciting these traditional mantras with your family. A simple mantra repeats "Shreem" over and over, and it is believed to bring prosperity.

A Word From Verywell

Diwali is a festival of lights that many people in India observe to welcome in the new year. It involves many traditions such as decorating the house with hanging lights and colorful designs of colored sand. Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. 

There are many ways to celebrate this special day, but the most important part is spending time together with your loved ones and honoring the rich cultural meaning behind Diwali.

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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.