Diwali Rituals

Diwali is marked by specific rituals that are representative of the festival of lights.

Oil Lamps are used to lit up the inside and outside of homes

Clay made oil lamps are filled with oil and a wick is placed in it and lit. Traditionally, and in many homes even today, these oil lamps called “diya” were used to lit up the house and the courtyard on Diwali. Diyas are also used to worship deities in temples.

Diwali Puja Thali Decoration

A puja thali is a plate, which contains all ingredients required for worshipping a God or Goddess. Since, with celebrations, Diwali is also a tradition to worship the Gods and Goddess, especially Goddess Lakshmi, a puja thali is an important part of the rituals.

A typical Diwali thali is made of copper or brass and contains oil lamp, rice grains, tilak (vermilion or a colored powder to mark on the forehead), sweets, burning incense, coconut, a small metal or earthen pot filled with water, few currencies, and a hand-bell which are all required for worshiping.

Thali decoration is of much importance in Diwali rituals and hence it is decorated neatly with all required items in place.


Rangoli is a Sanskrit word that means a creative art made of many colors. It is a common tradition to draw Rangoli on the floors and walls during Diwali. It is an integral part of the home decoration process to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Rangoli is known by different names in different parts of the country. Known as Rangoli in Maharashtra, Alpana in Bengal and Kolam in South India, the Rangoli designs and their significance also vary from region to region. Rangoli was first created in Maharashtra but is practiced in almost all parts of the country.

Rangoli is a floor art, traditionally made using colorful powders made of natural sources like colored rice, dry flour, colored sand, bark of trees, flower petals etc. Synthetic dyes are also available today.

Conventionally only done by women, Rangoli is believed to bring good luck. The designs can vary from simple geometric shapes and flower shapes to very intricate designs crafted by artists. They can also vary widely in sizes. Irrespective of the complexities in the design, they are made with fingers and require fine skills. First, a few dots are created in the desired shape to provide a framework for the pattern. An interesting fact about Rangoli is that they should be continuous lines of colors because it is believed that evil spirits enters through the breaks and gaps in the designs.

Rangoli designs are based on themes that symbolize particular beliefs and have been used for many years. Most common designs are based on the sun, moon, zodiac signs, trident, OM symbol, oil lamp, earthen pot, lotus, stars, etc. There are other popularly used themes of flowers, trees, animals, human figures. Geometric shapes like circles, semi-circles, triangles, etc are also commonly used. However, Rangoli designs are not limited to the use of traditional patterns only and people can draw any design using their imagination and skills.

Rangoli is drawn in Diwali to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Small footprints, symbolic of her coming into the house, are a drawn near the threshold of the doors.

Rangoli designs are temporary and may stay on for a day or two.