Diwali is one such festival which is celebrated elaborately by everyone irrespective of religion or caste. Streets, houses, markets, the entire city celebrates this festival of light by marvellous decorations. This five- day festival brings families together and joy on the faces of one and all.
But most of us are still unaware about the history around Diwali. It is not just restricted to the arrival or Ram and Sita back to Ayodhya, several other incidents are associated with this auspicious day.
- Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday
On this day, the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi, had incarnated from the depth of the ocean. According to the Hindu scriptures, both Gods and Demons were mortal at one point of time. To seek immortality , both churned the ocean to seek Amrita, the nectar of immortality (“Samudra-manthan”), during which a few divine celestial objects emerged. Prime among these was Goddess Lakshmi, the daughter of the king of the milky ocean, who arose on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month. On this day, she was married to Lord Vishnu and hence Diwali is celebrated to mark this holy occassion.
To this day, Hindus celebrate the birth of the goddess Lakshmi and her marriage to Lord Vishnu on Diwali and seek her blessings for the coming year.
- The Legend of King Mahabali
King Mahabali was a powerful demon who ruled the earth. He was granted a boon by Lord Brahma to become invincible such that even gods failed to defeat him in battles. Soon he became a violent ruler and Lord Vishnu, on the insistence of the gods, disguised himself as a short Brahmin and tricked Bali into giving up his kingship and wealth (Lakshmi being the goddess of wealth). Diwali marks this overcoming of Mahabali by Lord Vishnu and this is another reason why Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on Diwali.
In Kerala, the festival of ‘Onam’ is celebrated around the month of August to mark this legend.
- The Return of the Pandavas
It was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ (new moon day of the month Kartik) when the Pandavas returned from their 12 years of banishment due to losing in the game of Gambling from Kauravas. To celebrate the their return to Hastinapura and to welcome back the Pandavas along with their mother and Draupadi, people illuminated their house by lighting diyas everywhere. And the tradition is followed to this day.
- The Enlightenment of Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Swami Dayananda Saraswati was one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism who became Maharshi Dayananda after attaining nirvana (enlightenment). In 1875, he founded the Arya Samaj, to purify Hindus of the evils associated in that era. Every Diwali, Swami Dayananda Saraswati is remembered by Hindus all over India.
- The Enlightenment of Vardhamana Mahavira
Diwali commemorates the enlightenment of Vardhamana Mahavira, the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankaras of Jains and the founder of Jainism. This festival is also celebrated for the emancipation of human spirit from earthly desires.
- Special Day for the Sikhs
On this day, the third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized it as an occasion when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. Also on this day, their sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was held captive by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir in the Gwalior fort, was freed from imprisonment along with 52 Hindu Kings. On Diwali, the foundation stone of the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid in 1577.