Although the main Diwali falls on Kartik Amavashya, Diwali festival is spread over a period of 5 days with each day commemorating a significant event in the past that has now become a tradition.
1st day – Dhanteras marks the beginning of the 5 days long celebration. Devotees seek blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth on this day. Businessmen and specially those into jewelry business celebrate this day with pomp and galore. People dress extravagantly in their best clothes and wear their best ornaments. They specially clean and lit their homes and courtyards for the occasion and decorate them with colorful Rangoli (an art made of colors) and imprint small footprints of Goddess Lakshmi to welcome her into their homes.
2nd day – Choti Diwali is celebrated a day before the main day of Diwali. Choti means small in Hindi and rightly so, Choti Diwali is celebrated on a smaller scale. Homes and courtyards are still illuminated with lamps and few firecrackers are lit. It is a common ritual to worship Lord Rama and Goddess Lakshmi on this day.
3rd day – This is the main day of Diwali, also celebrated as the Lakshmi Puja day in some parts of the country. The houses and courtyards are lit up once again in the evening and firecrackers are burned ceaselessly throughout the evening until early morning. People get together and exchange sweets and burn the firecrackers.
4th day – Padwa and Govardhan Puja marks the 4th day of celebration. This day is especially of importance to people in northern India and is celebrated with special fervor mainly in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. People in these regions builds cow dung mounds and decorate them with flowers. On this day, Lord Krishna raised the Govardhan Mountain to protect people from an aggressive storm.
5th day – The last day of Diwali is Bhai Dooj celebrates the bond between a brother and sister and brings together the whole family. It is said that the God of death, Yamaraj, visited his sister on this day after a very long period. Sisters perform puja to seek blessings for their brothers and in turn they gift presents to the sisters as a token of love.