Diwali symbolizes spirit life; fond memories of lights, crackers and sweets; new dresses, gifts, well wishes from friends and families. Festive season is upon us now, so let this Diwali bring you wishes to reality!
Diwali is Not Just a Hindu Festival
During the Deepavali festival, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs illuminate their homes, temples and work spaces with diyas, candles and lanterns.
Hindus, in particular, have a ritual oil bath at dawn on each day of the festival. Diwali is also marked with fireworks and the decoration of floors with rangoli designs.
Festivities are elaborated and span to 5 days:
- First day: We start with Dhanteras (worshipped for well-being and prosperity)
- Second day: Naraka Chaturdasi (to mark the killing of evil)
- Third day: Diwali, the festival of light!
- Fourth day: Diwali Padva(celebrate wife–husband relationship)
- Fifth day: Bhai Duj (celebrate sister–brother relationship). This marks the end of festivities!
While the Hindus have elaborated celebrations, this festival is also significant for other believers.
The festival celebrated after the summer harvest is undoubtedly the brightest festival of the year. How nice to have a 5 day festival! Starting with Dhanteras (worshipped for well-being and prosperity) on the first day, Naraka Chaturdasi (to mark the killing of evil) on second day, Diwali on the third day, Diwali Padva(celebrate wife–husband relationship) on the fourth day and ending with Bhai Duj (celebrate sister–brother relationship) on the fifth day.
- For Hindus, Diwali may be a day of significance which indicates the return of Rama from exile, or the return of Pandavas from exile, or to worship lord Lakshmi for prosperity or the worship of Kali in the name of Kali Puja or it may be the start of New Year for a few parts in India.
- For Jains it is a significant day when Mahavira attained nirvana.
- For Sikhs it is the day to remember Guru Har Gobind, who freed himself from the prison of Islamic ruler and arrived at the Amritsar Golden Temple.
Legends of Diwali Festival – Stories You Have Not Heard Of
For many, Diwali is the day of significance which indicates the return of Rama from exile, or the return of Pandavas from exile, or to worship lord Lakshmi for prosperity or the worship of Kali in the name of Kali Puja or it may be the start of New Year for a few parts in India.
There are many mythological significances to get inspired.
1. Legend of Samudra Manthan and Goddess Lakshmi
In Hindu Mythology, Goddess Lakshmi symbolizes and is worshipped for personal virtues, success wealth, beauty and prosperity. “Lakshme” in Sanskrit meaning “goal”.
The 3rd day of 5 days of Diwali is completely dedicated to her. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped for material abundance, spiritual prosperity, removal of troubles from the path of life and business. Special rites and rituals are performed to make her happy so as to receive her showers of blessings and splendor.
The legend says that:
The celestial milky ways and oceans were churned by the Gods and Demons to attain the immortality nectar or Amrit. This churning of Oceans is called, “Samudra Manthan” and on this day Goddess Laxmi emerged from the oceans, of milk called the Ksheer Sagar, on the new moon day of the Hindu month of Karthik. It is believed that she brought wealth and prosperity.
Lakshmi chose Lord Vishnu as her Consort and married her this day, and each time Lord Vishnu’s avatar appeared on Earth, he was accompanied by Goddess Lakshmi.
Lakshmi appeared as Sita with Lord Ram, she was Rukmini with Lord Krishna. Some believe that on the day of Diwali Goddess Lakshmi enters the house and thus sweets and vegetarian food are the calls of the day.
2. Legend of Vamana-avatar and King Bali
So as a part of Diwali celebrations, Hindus remember King Bali.
The legend says that:
King Bali was a generous and ambitious ruler and some Gods asked Lord Vishnu to check the power of King Bali. Vishnu descended to the Earth as Vaman (dwarf) dressed as a priest. The dwarf approached King Bali and said:
“You are the ruler of the skies, the earth and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?”
Then the King Bali laughed and thought that dwarf won’t need much space so he agreed to the Dwarf’s request. On this, the dwarf changed into Lord Vishnu and his three strides covered, the earth, the skies and the whole Universe, and King Bali was sent to the Underworld.
3. Legend of Narkasur from Bhagwad Purana
Do you know why some take oil bath during Diwali?
As per the legend of Bhagwad Puran:
There was an evil demon king called Nakarakasur, who was a terrible and cruel ruler. He was the demon of filth and dirt and used to capture beautiful women and force them to live with him.
But lord Krishna defeated Narakasur and freed 16,000 women. To symbolise his victory, Lord Krishna smeared the dead demons blood on his forehead. He returned on the Morning of Narakchaturdashi.
The womenfolk massaged scented oils on his body and gave him a bath. Since then the custom of taking an oil bath before sunrise is practiced in the south zone and Maharashtra region.
4. Legend of Rama’s Victory from Ramayana
Diwali is remembered and celebrated as death of evil forces and emergence of good virtues.
The legend of epic Ramayana says that:
It was the new moon night of Karthik month when Lord Ram, Maa Sita and Lakshman returned from a 14-year long exile and Lord Ram was also returning after defeating the dangerous demon- Ravan.
Good had triumphed over evil and to honour him the entire Ayodhya was lit up with clay lamps, to prepare for a grandeur filled welcome for their King.
Over to You
Diwali is special for different reasons for different people. Let us know what memory it brings to you – childhood, family, parents etc. Wishing you happy Diwali!