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Significance, History and Myths Behind Diwali

Diwali is the joyous celebration of the triumph of good over evil. It is the popular belief that the fireworks that add splendor to the festivities actually reduce the evil to ashes. The uniqueness of Diwali is that it harmonizes five varied philosophies, with each day assigned to commemorate a special thought or idea. According to a legend, which is also taken to be a history of Diwali, the world celebrates Deepavali as the day the goddess stopped dancing after her battle with Mahishasura. The festival begins with Dhanteras, which is the celebration of the birth of goddess Lakshmi from the bottomless ocean. The second day is “Narak Chaturdhashi”, which commemorates the felling of Narakasura by Satyabhama with the help of Indra. This is again another view of history of Diwali. Some also believe that the second day is dedicated to Bali the generous king, who returns to his kingdom amidst celebrations. The most famous legend behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the prince of Ayodhya, Lord Shri Ram Chandra, his defeating Ravana and his return from exile by lighting lamps on this darkest night of the year.

This view of history of Diwali is corroborated by the epic Ramayana . The fourth day of Diwali is devoted to Govardhan Pooja which celebrates Krishna’s feat of lifting the Govardhan hill on his little finger. People organize a special pooja on this day. The five day festival is wrapped up by “Bhai Duj”, the time to honor the brother-sister relationship. We {link} at The Holiday Spot bring you all the interesting stories related to the Festival of Lights that has its root in the Indian mythology.

Below we give the seven different histories for Diwali, as per Indian mythology.

The Story of Rama and Sita: Lord Rama was a great warrior King who was exiled by his father Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman, on his wife’s insistence. Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, in which he put an end to the demon Ravana of Lanka, who was a great Pundit, highly learned but still evil dominated his mind. After this victory of Good over Evil, Rama returned to Ayodhya. In Ayodhya, the people welcomed them by lighting rows of clay lamps. So, it is an occasion in honor of Rama’s victory over Ravana; of Truth’s victory over Evil.

The Story of King Bali and Vamana Avatar (the Dwarf): The other story concerns King Bali, who was a generous ruler. But he was also very ambitious. Some of the Gods pleaded Vishnu to check King Bali’s power. Vishnu came to earth in the form of a Vamana (dwarf) dressed as priest. The dwarf approached King Bali and said “You are the ruler of the three worlds: the Earth, the world above the skies and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?” King Bali laughed. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the King, who agreed to dwarf’s request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered the Earth, the Skies and the whole Universe! King Bali was send to the underworld. As part of Diwali celebrations, some Hindus remember King Bali.

The Defeat of Narakasura by Lord Krishna: Lord Vishnu in his 8th incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasura, who was causing great unhappiness amongst the people of the world. Narakasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He used to kidnap beautiful young women and force them to live with him. Eventually, their cries for rescue were heard by Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna. First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster that guarded the demon’s home. Narakasura hoped that his death might bring joy to others. Krishna granted his request and the women were freed. For Hindus, this story is a reminder that good can still come out of evil.

Krishna and the Mountain: In the village of Gokula, many years ago, the people prayed to the God Indra. They believed that Indra sent the rains, which made their crops, grow. But Krishna came along and persuaded the people to worship the mountain Govardhan, because the mountain and the land around it were fertile. This did not please Indra. He sent thunder and torrential rain down on the village. The people cried to Krishna to help. Krishna saved the villagers by lifting the top of the mountain with his finger. The offering of food to God on this day of Diwali is a reminder to Hindus of the importance of food and it is a time for being thankful to God for the bounty of nature.

Sikh Festival Diwali

In Sikh perspective, Diwali is celebrated as the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji from the captivity of the city, Gwalior. To commemorate his undying love for Sikhism, the towns people lit the way to, Harmandhir Sahib (referred to as the Golden Temple), in his honor.

Jain Festival Diwali: Among the Jain festivals, Diwali is one of the most important one. For on this occasion we celebrate the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma as we follow it. Lord Mahavira was born as Vardhamana on Chaitra Shukla 13th in the Nata clan at Khattiya-kundapura, near Vaishali. He obtained Kevala Gyana on Vishakha Shukla 10 at the Jambhraka village on the banks of Rijukula River at the age of 42.

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