6 Legends of Diwali: Reasons behind the Celebration of Diwali!
India is indeed the only country with 33 crores of Gods and Goddesses. Each God and Goddess is associated with a kind of festival. Therefore, there are more than 260 festivals celebrated across India in a year, including Diwali. Diwali is the most important festival which is celebrated in the whole of India. It is the biggest and brightest of all Hindu Festivals.
Diwali is considered the ‘Festival of Lights.’ It is also known as Deepavali. According to the Hindu methodological legend, it falls in the autumn harvest and is dedicated to the various Gods and Goddesses. According to the ancient calendar, Diwali falls on Amavasya or new moon day on the 15th day of Kartik Month every year. It falls in the month of October or November as per the English Calendar. In 2022, Diwali is on Monday, Oct 24.
Why is Diwali Celebrated?
There are different reasons behind the celebration of Diwali. One common thing behind the various reasons is the ‘Triumph of Good over Evil’. As per the most famous legend, the northern part of India observes this day as the occasion when Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and Hanuman, returned to Ayodhya after defeating the demon Ravana. Since the night they came back was a no-moon day (Amavasya), that is why people light earthen pots on the night of Diwali.
On the other hand, South Indians celebrate the occasion as the day when Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
Further, it is believed that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi tied the knot on this day. Alternate legends also claim that Goddess Lakshmi was born on the new moon day of Kartik month.
Let’s explore the most famous Legends behind the Celebration of Festival of Lights.
The Incarnation of Goddess Laxmi
Goddess Laxmi, who is considered the Goddess of Wealth, was incarnated on the new moon day (Amavasya) of the Karthik month, during the great churning of the ocean called Samudra Manthan. According to Hindu mythology, it is said that on the day of the new moon, when Diwali is celebrated, Goddess Lakshmi emerged from the ocean during the process of churning by demons and deities. This endeavour was undertaken by them in order to obtain the Amrit.
This is the reason that Diwali is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lakshmi since the day is regarded as her birth anniversary. The legend further stipulates that on this day, the divine Goddess visits the earth and blesses her devotees with insurmountable riches. Lamps are illuminated in every household so that the Goddess can easily find her way around, and fireworks are lit to ward off the evil spirits. Devotees worship her by doing Laxmi Puja.
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Lord Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi
Lord Vishnu, in his 5th incarnation as Vaman avatar, is said to have rescued Lakshmi from the prison of legendary King Bali. Bali was a well-known king but was over-ambitious. He once had prisoned the Goddess Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu was the one who rescued the Goddess Lakshmi. This is another reason behind the celebration of Diwali and worshipping Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu on and around Diwali.
Lord Krishna Killed Narakaasur
Once there was a Demon King named Narakaasur who has spread his reign all over the universe, including the kingdom of Indra, i.e. Swarglok. He had stolen the jewellery of Mother of God – Aditi and abducted 16000 girls and women. Lord Krishna came forward and killed the demon Narakasura and restored the reign of Indra, the honour of Aditi, and rescued and married the 16000 women. Thus, this day marks the triumph of Good over Evil.
The Return of the Pandavas
Another legend of Diwali is found in the Mahabharata. The 5 Pandavas, namely – Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva, had lost everything they had in a game of dice (gambling) playing against Kauravas. When they left with nothing to bet, they were punished with 12 years of exile or vanvasa. During these 12 years, Pandavas lived in hardship. Also, it is believed that on the day of Amavasya of Karthik month, they had returned back to their kingdom. When they returned, people who loved Pandavas lit earthen lamps across the kingdom and distributed sweets in order to welcome them. After that day, this day is celebrated as Deepawali by lighting earthen lamps.
The Victory of King Rama
The most important legend attached to Diwali is Lord Rama. As per the Holy book Ramayana, on the day of Diwali, Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita, brother Laxman and devotee Hanuman, returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile or vanvasa. Rama was sentenced to exile to fulfil a promise of his father given to his stepmother. Being an obedient son, Rama left his kingdom Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and brother Laxmana. During these 14 years, they stayed in a jungle or van with lots of hardship and struggle and defeated the demon king Ravana.
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When Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after 14 years, it was the day of the New moon. The people of Ayodhya decorated the whole kingdom with earthen lamps and lights to welcome their beloved prince Rama. This tradition from that day continues on the same day till now.
Coronation of the King Vikramaditya
According to the people of ancient times, the first day of Diwali was not celebrated in some regions in ancient times but started celebrating during the reign of one of the greatest Hindu King, Vikramaditya. On the day of his coronation, the people of the kingdom lit the earthen lamps to welcome their new king to the throne and show their joy and happiness. After this day, the tradition of lighting earthen lamps on the day of Amavasya of Karthik month continues.
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1. Which God is worshipped during Diwali?
The Goddess of wealth, Goddess Laxmi, and God of Vighnaharta, Lord Ganesha is worshipped on the day of Diwali.
2. What are some important symbols of Diwali?
Earthen lamps, Rangoli, Ganesha, Lotus flower, Bindi/Pottu, Aum, and Gopura are some of the important symbols of Diwali.
3. Do Muslims celebrate Diwali?
In contemporary India, these traditions live on in the form of syncretic celebrations of Diwali by Muslims.