Diwali, or Deepavali – the festival of lights. What is the story behind it? Not one, but several. In India, we enjoy a festival every other day/month and each festival is dedicated to a deity. Of these, a major festival celebrated all over India in different ways is Deepavali, and the festivities last five days. Five days of fun, food, firecrackers and lights. Here’s a quick list of legends associated with Diwali:
Return of Shri Ram To Ayodhyaa
The top story of Diwali is about the prince of Ayodhya – Lord Shri Ram. The king of Lanka, Ravana, kidnapped Ram’s wife – Sita from the jungle, where they were in exile. To free Sita from Ravana, Ram attacked him. A war ensued. Ram defeated Ravana and rescued Sita and they returned to Ayodhya. Their arrival was an occasion to rejoice and the people of Ayodhya decorated their homes and the city with tiny lamps to welcome their beloved prince Shri Ram and Devi Sita.
Incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi
On the auspicious new moon day ‘Amavasyaa’ of the Hindi month of Kartik, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Lakshmi was incarnated. She appeared during the churning of the ocean, or’Samudra Manthan’, by the demons on one side and Gods on the other side. On this day, the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the Lakshmi Puja, became a tradition.
Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur
The demon king Narakasur was ruler of Pragjyotishpur, a province to the South of Nepal. After winning a war against Lord Indra, Narakasur grabbed the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi, who was not only the ruler of Suraloka, but also a relative of Lord Krishna’s wife – Satyabhama. As of this was not enough, Narakasur also imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of Gods and saints in his harem. With the support of Lord Krishna, Satyabhama defeated Narakasur, released all the women from his harem and restored Mother Goddess Aditi’s earrings.
The Return of the Pandavas
The great Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’ has an interesting story related to the ‘Kartik Amavasyaa’. According to the story, ‘the Pandavas’, the five brothers Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva, were sentenced to thirteen years exile as a result of being defeated by ‘the Kauravas’ – Duryodhana and his ninety nine brothers, at the game of dice. The Pandavas then spent thirteen years in the jungles and returned to their kingdom on the day of ‘Kartik Amavasyaa’. On their return, the people of their kingdom welcomed them celebrating the event lighting the earthen lamps all over the city.
Coronation of King Vikramaditya
Another legend or story about Diwali is about the greatest Hindu King – Vikramaditya. It was the day of his coronation and the people celebrated this event with tiny earthen lamps.