Celebrating the Festival of Lights

Hosting a Diwali event? Lean on food and décor traditions to celebrate

Dreaming of Diwali? India’s biggest holiday of the year is right around the corner. 

Diwali, or Deepavali, is an annual five-day celebration observed by Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths. Known as the Festival of Lights, the holiday has been celebrated for more than 2,500 years and honors multiple stories about the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. In northern India, for example, Diwali is commonly associated with King Rama’s return after exile, where rows of lit clay lamps led his way home. 

This year, the beloved celebration falls on October 27. So, whether you’re hosting a meeting in Mumbai or Manhattan, infuse the spirit of the festival in your event with these celebrated Diwali traditions: 

Specialty mithai

Mithai are Indian sweets and desserts. Although they are popular year-round, there are a number of specialty Diwali mithai: peda, a milky cooked dough, similar to fudge; burfi (or barfi), confections made of milk, ghee, nuts and sugar; and laddoo (or laddu), which are made from flour, fat and sugar and mixed with dried fruit or chopped nuts.


A well-known dish in Indian cuisine, samosas are popular fare during Diwali. The deep-fried, triangular pastry pockets are served as snacks or appetizers. Following India’s culture of vegetarianism, samosas are typically stuffed with potatoes, peas and lentils, though meat-filled samosas are gaining in popularity, too. 


Because Diwali centers around the triumph of light, consider a copious showing of candles and lamps in your event space to capture the symbolism. Colorful and vibrant paper lanterns are an inexpensive way to add some pop. For larger Diwali events, consider a firework display to cap off the night. 


Diwali is no time for neutral color palettes. In fact, many people repaint their homes and adorn them with colorful décor during Diwali. So, play up the brighter hues. Think vivid tablecloths, floral arrangements and backdrops.


Last but certainly not least, consider investing in flower rangoli, intricate, colorful displays made from flower petals that are thought to bring good luck. Want to get guests involved? Host a create-your-own rangoli station, where attendees can make their own designs.