India is a country that celebrates many festivals every year. Each festival is observed in honor of the different gods and goddesses that populate one of India’s main religions, Hinduism. People gather together for the celebration. One of these festivals is Diwali, also known as a festival of lights. It is an occasion that is celebrated not only on one day, but spans five different days between the months of September to November.
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On Diwali Festival, people light up clay lamps or diyas, bedeck their homes with bright and colorful ornaments, perform rituals endeavored to honor the specific deity celebrated for the day. Like many other Indian festivals, Diwali has rich stories behind it relating to different gods, goddesses and events.
Legends of Diwali
Shri Ram Returns to Ayodhyaa
The legend of Lord Shri Ram, prince of Ayodhya Nagri, is the most renowned in the Diwali festival. According to the story, Lord Ravana, the Lankan king, captured Lord Shri Ram’s wife, Sita. He was acting as per Shri Ram’s father, Lord Dashratha, instructions. To rescue his wife from Ravana’s clutches, Lord Shri Ram successfully attacked him and save Sita. Their return to Ayodhyaa is celebrated by lighting of diyas in one’s homes to welcome them back.
Incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi
It is said that on the day of a new moon, Amavasyaa, Lakshmi,the goddess of wealth and prosperity was born. In the middle of the churning ocean, caused by gods and demons, Lakshmi is said to have appeared. This event was known as the “Samudra Manthan”.
Lord Krishna Destroyed Demon Narakasur
Another legend behind Diwali is about Narakasur, the demon king. It was that he defeated Lord Indra and took away goddess Aditi’s precious earrings. He also took with 16,000 women for his harem. Satyabhama, Lord Indra’s wife and goddess Aditi’s relative managed to defeat Narakusar, recover the earrings, and rescue the imprisoned women.
The Return of The Pandavas
The story of the Pandavas, the five brothers who were exiled for thirteen years because of losing a game of dice against the Kauravas, can be found in Mahabharata. The brothers, who spent their exile in a jungle and eventually returned to their kingdom on Kartik Amavasyaa after thirteen years, were greeted by the people by lighting up diyas. The tradition carried on to this day.
Coronation of King Vikramaditya
People also lit diyas for celebration of the coronation of Vikramaditya, the greatest Hindu king.