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The Illuminating Saga: The Story Behind Diwali Celebration

Categories: Festival

The Illuminating Saga: The Story Behind Diwali Celebration


Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals in India. Its essence extends far beyond mere fireworks and decorative lamps; it carries a profound cultural, religious, and historical significance. This festival, observed by millions worldwide, has a rich tapestry of stories and legends associated with its celebration. Let's delve into the fascinating narrative behind the Diwali celebration.


Historical Roots

Diwali's origins can be traced back thousands of years to ancient India. Its roots lie in various mythologies and historical events, making it a multi-faceted festival with diverse regional interpretations.


The Legend of Lord Rama

One of the most popular and widely recognized stories behind Diwali is the return of Lord Rama, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, to his kingdom of Ayodhya. According to the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and loyal devotee Hanuman, spent fourteen years in exile, battling the demon king Ravana. After a fierce battle, Lord Rama emerged victorious and returned to Ayodhya on the auspicious day of 'Amavasya,' marking the new moon.


The jubilant citizens of Ayodhya celebrated his return by lighting up the entire city with oil lamps, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. This tradition of illuminating homes with diyas (lamps) continues to be a central aspect of Diwali celebrations.


The Triumph of Lord Krishna over Narakasura

In certain parts of India, particularly in South India, Diwali commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakasura. According to the Bhagavata Purana, Lord Krishna, along with his consort Satyabhama, defeated Narakasura, who had terrorized the world. This victory is celebrated with great fervor and symbolizes the triumph of righteousness over tyranny.


Goddess Lakshmi and the Churning of the Ocean

Another captivating legend associated with Diwali revolves around the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. According to Hindu mythology, the gods and demons joined forces to churn the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality (amrita). During this cosmic endeavor, various divine objects emerged, including the goddess Lakshmi, who chose Lord Vishnu as her eternal consort. Diwali is celebrated to honor the goddess and seek her blessings for prosperity and abundance.


The Sikh Perspective: Bandi Chhor Divas

For Sikhs, Diwali holds a unique significance. It marks the day of "Bandi Chhor Divas," which translates to the "Day of Liberation." On this day, the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, was released from imprisonment along with fifty-two other kings by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. To commemorate this event, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is illuminated with thousands of lamps, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.


Diwali in Jainism: Lord Mahavira's Attainment of Nirvana

For Jains, Diwali is associated with Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, attaining ultimate enlightenment, or nirvana, on the day of 'Amavasya.' It is a time of reflection, meditation, and spiritual awakening, as Jains seek to follow Lord Mahavira's teachings of non-violence and compassion.


Modern Diwali Celebrations

Today, Diwali is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm not only in India but also by millions of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and people of various faiths worldwide. The festival typically lasts for five days, with each day holding its own significance.


Day 1: Dhanteras

  • This day is dedicated to wealth and prosperity. People buy gold, silver, and utensils as a symbol of good fortune.


Day 2: Choti Diwali

  • Also known as Naraka Chaturdashi, this day commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura. People take an oil bath to purify themselves.


Day 3: Diwali

  • The main festival day, celebrated with the lighting of diyas, exchanging of gifts, feasting, and offering prayers to Goddess Lakshmi.


Day 4: Govardhan Puja

  • This day is dedicated to Lord Krishna's act of lifting the Govardhan Hill to protect the villagers from Lord Indra's wrath.


Day 5: Bhai Dooj

  • This day celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, akin to Raksha Bandhan. Sisters perform aarti for their brothers and pray for their well-being.



Diwali, with its multifaceted stories and diverse cultural interpretations, stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of Indian heritage. It transcends religious boundaries, uniting people in the spirit of light, hope, and prosperity. As the lamps flicker and the fireworks illuminate the night sky, Diwali continues to inspire and bring communities together in celebration of life's eternal triumphs over darkness.

The Illuminating Saga: The Story Behind Diwali Celebration