Diwali, a five-day festival of lights, is celebrated with a lot of grandeur –diyas, elaborate displays of fireworks, designs, and lot of traditional savouries and sweets. This festival symbolises the spiritual victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. Here, light is used as a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. This festival is also a fusion of harvest festivals in ancient India. Traces of this festival are mentioned in Sanskrit texts like the Padma Purana and the Skanda Purana – both of which were completed in the second half of the 1st Millennium CE. The diyas have been mentioned in the Skanda Purana as the symbolizing parts of the sun. It described it as the cosmic giver of light and energy to all life, which seasonally transitions in the month of Karthik of the Hindu calendar. Islamic historians of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire era have also recorded Diwali. It is also known that the Mughal Emperor Akbar welcomed and participated in Diwali and other Hindu festivals. A few publications from the British colonial era have also mentioned this festival.
The most famous legend of Diwali is celebrating the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman, after killing Ravana, the Demon King in Lanka. To welcome Lord Ram, Sita, and Lakshman, the people of Ayodhya decorated the streets and their houses with oil lit clay lamps.
But, there are many other lesser-known facts that are related to this festival. Read on to find out more:
Lord Krishna’s victory
Lord Krishna killed Narakasur – the son of Bhudevi (the goddess of Earth) and Varaha (the third avatar of Vishnu). Bhudevi had sought a boon from her husband that Narakasur must be very powerful and should have a long life. Immersed in power, he conquered both the heaven and the earth. Troubled by his actions, all the gods approached Vishnu and asked him to get rid of Narakasur. Vishnu assured them that he would kill him in his avatar as Krishna. He stayed true to his words and killed Narakasur and freed 16,000 women that he had forcefully enslaved. Krishna then married all these women in order to save their dignity. Before dying, Narakasur requested for a boon, that his death be celebrated. Hence, this day is celebrated as Diwali.
Lord Mahavira attained moksha
Lord Mahavira – the 24th and last tirthankara (a teacher who preaches dharma) attained moksha (nirvana) on the day of Diwali. His soul is believed to have become siddha – the most pure form of a soul.
The coronation of King Vikramaditya
It is a known fact that the coronation of King Vikramaditya took place a day after Diwali. This day is known as Varshapratipada or Padwa. King Vikramaditya was the emperor of Ujjain, and was famous for his valour, wisdom, and magnanimity.
Return of the Pandavas
According to the epic – Mahabharata, the Pandavas returned to Hastinapura after 13 years of exile. The people of Hastinapura loved the Panadavas and welcomed them by lighting up their homes with oil lit clay lamps. This tradition is followed till date! - Zainab