The festival of lights, Diwali or Deepawali, is one of the most important festivals in India. Signifying the the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair, the festival is a five-day affair. The main night falls on the darkest new moon night (Amavasya) according to the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika, which is usually between mid-October and mid-November. Before the Diwali night, people clean their homes and offices and decorate it with lamps, lights, rangolis and diyas. They also dress up in their finest clothes and get set to perform the Lakshmi Puja with newly-installed idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. (See Diwali 2017 photos)
According to Drik Panchang, Diwali Puja should be done at an appropriate muhurat which occurs at a fixed lagna, pradosh time and amavasya tithi.
A complete Diwali Puja involves the following:
Atma shodhan: Self-purification
Sankalp: A solemn vow to perform Diwali Puja rituals
Shanti-Patha: Shanti Patha Mantra is recited to bring peace, happiness and prosperity in everyone’s life.
Mangal-Patha: Recited to fulfil wishes in everyone’s life.
Kalash-Sthapana: Placement of the water-filled urn on seeds of grains.
Bhagawan Ganapati Puja: Sankshipt five-step Ganesha Pujan Vidhi
Nav-Graha Puja: Sankshipt Navagraha Pujan
Shodasha Matrika-Puja: Sankshipt Shodasha Matrika Pujan
New Ganesha Pratima Puja: Shodashopachara Puja of Shri Ganesha
New Shri-Lakshmi Pratima Puja: Shodashopachara Puja of Shri Lakshmi
Maha Kali Puja: Maha-Kali Puja on Lekhani-Dawat
Saraswati Puja: Offer prayers to Goddess Saraswati
Kuber Puja: Shri Kuber-Puja on Tijori-Baksa
Deep-Malika Puja: All necessary Puja steps for Deep-Malika Puja Vidhi
Visarjan: Formal conclusion of Diwali Puja with prayer and aarti
Lakshmi Puja Muhurta — 7:26pm to 8:25pm
Duration — 0 hours 58 mins
Pradosh Kaal — 5:54pm to 8:25pm
Vrishabha Kaal — 7:26pm to 9:24pm
Amavasya Tithi Begins — 00:13am on October 19
Amavasya Tithi Ends — 00:41am on October 20
Lakshmi Puja Muhurta = 11:46pm to 00:37am
Duration = 0 hours 50 mins
Mahanishita Kaal = 11:46pm to oo:37am
Simha Kaal = 1:54am to 4:06am
Amavasya Tithi Begins = 00:13am on October 19
Amavasya Tithi Ends = 00:41am on October 20
All above prayers are done with full rituals. While the entire Diwali Puja might take hours to finish, it can begin before Lakshmi Puja muhurat so that Lakshmi Puja time coincides with the available muhurat time. The remaining puja can continue after Lakshmi Puja beyond the muhurat time. The diyas lit during Diwali puja must continue to light throughout the night. Some devotees also read Shri-Sukta, Lakshmi-Sukta and other stutis of Shri Lakshmi and dedicate a full-night vigil for the goddess.