Depending on the regional differences, Diwali / Deepavali is celebrated from 1-6 days and follow different rituals. The northern regions of India usually celebrate Diwali / Deepavali for longer durations and give it more importance than the southern regions.
In the five day celebration of Diwali / Deepavali, the first day is known as ‘Gowatsa Dwadashi’. It is celebrated as the day on which the King Prithu chased Mother Earth and eventually brought prosperity to it’s inhabitants. Since Mother Earth is represented as a cow in the legend, on this day pooja is performed for cows and their calves.
The second day known as, Dhanteras is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Dhanwantari , the God of Medicines. It is also considered auspicious to buy gold, silver, gems and other wealth on this day.
Narka Chaturdasi is the name of the third day and is rejoiced as the day on which Lord Krishna killed Narakasura. This day is celebrated by the burning of Narakasura effigies, in a symbolic representation of the destruction of evil. This day is considered as the main day of Diwali / Deepavali. Devotees perform pooja to Lord Vishnu / Krishna, exchange gifts, prepare sweets and burst firecrackers.
The fourth day is celebrated with Lakshmi Devi pooja. It is a request to Devi Lakshmi to bless the family with prosperity and wealth. The lighting of clay lamps (diyas) is done on this day also.
Govardhan pooja is the day on which lord Krishna is said to have saved the villagers from the wrath of Lord Indra by lifting the mighty mountain Govardhana on his little finger. It is the fifth day of Diwali / Deepavali and is celebrated as a show of gratitude to the compassion of the Lord.
The sixth and final day of Diwali / Deepavali is known as Yama Dwitiya. This day is celebrated mostly by the women of the household to ask Lord Yama (the god of death), to safeguard the lives of their brothers and husband.
This is just a very brief look at the various celebrations since like I said before, it varies greatly from region to region. Om
Please do let me know how you celebrate your Diwali / Deepavali through the comments.