Diwali is one of the most awaited festivals of India. Being one of the longest and major festivals, it is celebrated across India in the month of October and November over a period of Five days. Each of the five days of celebration has its own story to describe the significance of that day.
The most popular story behind the celebration of Diwali is the return of Lord Ram and Laxman to Ayodhya after the 14 years of “Vanvas” i.e. exile. But you will be amazed to know that there are many other stories which are related to celebration of Diwali.
We would first like to throw light on the commonly known myth behind the Celebration of Diwali. According to the story in Ramayana, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya had sorrowfully sentenced his son and prince of Ayodhya Rama for 14 Years of Vanvaas, on the demand of his Queen Kaikeyi. Rama went into exile accompanied by his wife Sita and faithful brother, Lakshmana. When Rama went for hunting in the forest, Ravana disguised himself as a Brahman (Sadhu), and had abducted Sita to his Island Kingdom Lanka. Rama along with Lakshmana and King Sugreev’s ( the monkey king) army fought against Ravana. After defeating Ravana and on saving Sita, on the day of Diwali Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana had returned to Ayodhya after 14 years. The people of Ayodhya had lit the diyas in every nook and corners to welcome him and express their joy.
According to another fascinating myth form the Mahabharata, one of the longest written epics, the Five princes, the Pandavas (Yudhishthhira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva) lost everything in the hands of ‘the Kauravas’ – Duryodhan and his ninety nine brothers in dice game. Further when the Pandavas didn’t have anything to bet, they were sentenced to 13 years of exile. The Pandavas, after the thirteen years of exile, had returned to their kingdom on ‘Kartik Amavasyaa’. To express their joy people of kingdom lit the Diyas all over the city.
According to another myth, long Years back Devas(Gods) and Asuras(Demons) were mortals. It means that they had to die sometime or other, like us. Since they wanted to live longer they had churned the Sea of Milk (an event commonly known as Samundra Manthan) for the Amrit nectar for Immorality. During the Churning of sea number of divine objects came up. The prime among this was Goddess of wealth and prosperity, and also the daughter of the king of Milky Ocean Lakshmi rose up. On the very night of amaavasyaa of the Kartik month Lord Vishnu married him. To mark this holy occasions lamps were illuminated in rows. Since then on this day the occasion is celebrated as the Birth of Goddess Lakshmi and the marriage of Vishnu to seek their blessing for future year.
According to other scriptures, Kali, also called Shyama Kali was born from the forehead of Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva’s partner to save heaven and earth from the cruelty of Demons after the gods had lost the battle to Demons. Goddess Kali was born as Kal Bhoi Nashini. She is said to signify the female power (Nari Shakti). On killing the devils, Goddess Kali lost control over herself and killed everyone that came in her way. Lord Shiva intervened to stop her. He lied down in her path to stop her. On realizing that she had stepped on Lord Shiva, she stopped in horror and regret and regained her senses. This event is also observed as kali puja in some parts of India.
Another legend says that the king of India, King Vikramaditya of 56 BC was crowned and declared as king. He was well known for his knowledge, courage and generosity. To mark this day, the people of Vikramaditya’s Kingdom lit lamps and that custom still continues. Historians say that this event gave a rise to observance of Diwali.
It is also believed that on this day Swami Dayananda Saraswati, one of the greatest reformers in Hinduism attained his niravana and become Maharshi Dayananda. Maharashi Dayananda means the great Sagacious Dayananda. The Arya Samaj, “Society of Nobels”, a hindu reform movement was founded by Maharashi Dayananda in 1875, to refine Hinduism from many evils. It is said that every year Hindus celebrate Diwali to remember this great reformer.
Vardhamana Mahavira the twenty-fourth and the last Tirthankaras of Jains and the founder of modern Jainism attended Moksha (enlightenment) on this day . It is said to be have occurred on Oct. 15, 527 B.C. It is also one of many other reasons for Jain people to celebrate Diwali. Hence Diwali is also celebrate as liberation of human from earthy desires.
For Sikhs, Diwali is the festival with number of reasons to be celebrated with great joy. It was on this day the third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a festival in Sikhs wherein, all the Sikhs would get together and seek the blessing of their Gurus. In 1619, Guru Hargobind Ji their religious leader was freed from the captivity of Mughal Emperor Jahengir from the Gwalior fort along with other 52 Hindu Kings, whom he had arranged to be fr