For thousands of years, Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali, also known as the festival of lights. Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness, the victory of dharma over Adharma.
1. Different Reasons for Celebrating Diwali
However, there is no one reason behind the celebration of Diwali, while in northern India Diwali is associated with Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. In the South, this festival marks the victory of Krishna, who was the eighth incarnation of Vishnu? Let us find out the various stories behind this festival. The most common tale that is prevalent in northern India is associated with the arrival of Rama, Lakshman, and Sita to Ayodhya from their 14-year long exile, upon winning the battle against Ravan and his Lanka to free his wife, Sita from abduction, Ram, coordinated, Vibhishan, the brother of Ravan as the king of Lanka.
2. Ram returned to Ayodhya in Pushpak Viman
Now, with a very few days left in the completion of his exile, Ram was restless to head back to Ayodhya. The reason for his restlessness was his beloved brother Bharat, who had vowed to kill himself if Ram delayed his arrival to Ayodhya, even by a day after the completion of 14 years Ram was in a dilemma. Knowing that his journey back to Ayodhya by foot would cost him the life of his brother Vibhishan, the rakshas king then used his Pushpak Viman to ensure Rama, Lakshman and Sita reached their kingdom on time and Bharat was kept alive.
The Pushpak Viman was a divine vehicle that traveled at the speed of mind and could grow or shrink in size to accommodate its passengers. When Ram Lakshman and Sita arrived in Ayodhya, the people of Ayodhya lit millions of lights and earthen lamps across the city to welcome their beloved king Ram. Thus, lighting a Diya or a lamp has been a long traditional way to celebrate Diwali by the Hindus
3. Celebration of Diwali in Southern India to mark the victory of Krishna over Narakasura
In southern India, Diwali is celebrated to mark the victory of Krishna over the demon Narakasura. Bhumi Devi had a son named Naraka, even though Naraka was the son of divinity, he had the nature of a demon. Naraka was powerful and he took pleasure in terrorizing the inhabitants of the three worlds. Narakasura would raid and plunder the kingdoms of all three worlds. He did not even leave the women and would kidnap them for his harem. Narakasura once heard that Indra, the king of the devas, has thousands of divine elephants in his army now Narakasura being greedy, wanted to possess everything, so he attacked the heavens.
Indra was helpless as he watched Narkasura plunder the heavens. Naraka himself began the pursuit of the devas, while pursuing the devas a glimmering object, far away caught his eye. Upon inspection, he realized that the glimmering object was Aditi, the mother of the devas.
4. Indra asked for Krishna’s Help
He then tried to assault his mother Aditi as well. Now Indra feeling humiliated at his loss and even worse, that his mother was assaulted, wanted revenge and he knew that there was only one person who was a match for Naraka. It was Krishna, Indra who reached Krishna’s palace when Krishna was spending quality time with his wife Satyabhama. He told Krishna about the happenings and begged him for his help.
Krishna was enraged that Narca had laid his hands on mother Aditi and said that Naraka must die for his actions. Satyabhama looked annoyed because Krishna was about to leave her, wanting to please both Satyabhama and Indra, Krishna decided to take Satyabhama with him into the battle. Krishna summoned his mount Garuda and made his way to Naraka’s fortress. Naraka’s palace was guarded by the five-headed demon Mura. Mura shot countless weapons at Krishna, but Krishna shot each one down with his bow and arrow.
5. Krishna Killed Narakasura
Then Krishna picked up his flying discus the Sudarshana chakra and hurled it towards Mura, dislocating Mura’s five heads. Mura fell to the ground dead. Then Krishna challenged Narakasura to the battle and killed him easily. Upon winning over Narakasura, Krishna placed Bhagdatta on the throne and then freed all of Naraka’s prisoners amongst the prisoners were sixteen thousand women whom Narakasura had captured, knowing that the society would not accept women who had Been held captive by a demon for years, Krishna married the sixteen thousand women making them all their wives and giving them a respectable place in the society.
6. Diwali is Celebrated in other Religions too
Not only Hindus but certain sections of other religions, like Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism use Diwali to mark important events in their histories too. In Jain tradition, Diwali is celebrated in observance of Mahavir Nirvana Divas, the physical death and final nirvana of Mahavira. The Jain Diwali celebrated in many parts of India, has similar practices to the Hindu Diwali, such as the lighting of lamps and the offering of prayers to Lakshmi.
However, the focus of the Jain Diwali remains the dedication to Mahavira. In Sikhism, the festival of Diwali highlights three events in Sikh history: the founding of the city of Amritsar in 1577, the release of Guru Hargobind from the Mughal prison, and the day of Bhai Mani Singh’s martyrdom in 1738. As a result of his failure to pay a fine for trying to celebrate Diwali and thereafter refusing to convert to Islam. Diwali is not a festival for most Buddhists, except for the Newar people of Nepal, who celebrate Diwali by offering prayers to Lakshmi. The Nevar Buddhists in the Nepalese valleys also celebrate the Diwali festival over five days in the much same way as on the same days as the Nepalese Hindu Diwali-Tihar festival.