Diwali is one of the most auspicious and significant Hindu festival. Aptly named Festival of Lights, Diwali night witnesses a dazzling display of fireworks and fancy diyas. But why is Diwali celebrated? There are many reasons behind the celebration of this festival. Here we provide you 12 reasons why we celebrate Diwali.
One reason why we celebrate Diwali is the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana. After slaying Ravana, the King of Lanka, and completing his 14 years of exile, Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya along with his wife, Sita, and brother, Lakshmana. The day when Lord Ram entered Ayodhya was the new moon day of Kartik. The People of Ayodhya welcomed Lord Ram by bursting firecrackers and lighting diyas and lamps. From then onwards, fireworks and diyas have come to symbolize the festival.
Narakasura was an evil demon king who was creating havoc on both earth as well as in heaven. A tyrannical king, he had taken 16,000 women captive. On the day before Diwali, Lord Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, killed Narakasura and freed the women. Thus, this day began to be celebrated with much devotion.
Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Her origin lies in the samudramanthan. According to legend, both devas and asuras were seeking the Amrit, which is the nectar of immortality, and hence performed the samudramanthan, which is the churning of the ocean. In the process, many celestial objects emanated from the depths of the ocean and one of these was Goddess Lakshmi. She arose on the new moon day. During her marriage with Vishnu, on the darkest night of the year, the ambiance was illuminated with lamps. Hence, Goddess Lakshmi came to be associated with Diwali and people perform Lakshmi Puja on the festival to usher in wealth and prosperity.
Mahabali, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, was a very wise and just king. However, over time he had become a bit egoistic. Lord Vishnu wanted him to get rid of his ego and one day visited Mahabali in the form of a poor Brahmin vamana (dwarf). When the vamana asked for a piece of land, the king boasted that he had plenty of it and the vamana could get as much as he wanted. The vama only asked for three steps of land and increased in cosmic proportions. One step of the vamana covered the earth, and the other the sky with no place for the third. Realizing that the vamana was God, Mahabali offered his head for the third step. Mahabali was pushed to the underworld and released from the cycle of life and death.
Diwali is observed by the Hindu community as New Year's Day. On this day, the business community offers puja at their offices to usher in prosperity, pay all their debts and also begin new account books.
Diwali is also considered a harvest festival. Diwali falls in the month of October or November, which is the last harvest of the year before the onset of the winter season. Diwali basically falls in the period of the Kharif crop.
Pandavas, after their defeat at the hands of the Kauravas in a game of dice, were exiled for a period of 12 years. Following the completion of 12 years, the Pandavas returned to Hashtinapur. The day when they returned was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ and hence, the people illuminated the city by lighting earthen lamps to welcome the Pandavas.
Vikramaditya is one of the greatest monarchs of India. He was a very wise and just king and an able administrator. In 56 BC he defeated the Sakas. Following his victory, a grand celebration was organized. His coronation day fell on Diwali, and the celebrations are observed till this day.
It is a very special day for the followers of Swami Dayananda Saraswati who was a great Hindu reformer. It was on the day of Diwali that Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, attained Nirvana.
On Diwali, Goddess Kali is worshiped in Bengal and Orissa. As per legend, a war was fought between the Gods and Demons. In the war demons emerged victorious. However, Goddess Kali killed all the anger. But, she lost all control and began killing anyone who came in her way. It was only after the intervention of Lord Shiva that she stopped the killing. Hence, the day is commemorated as Kali Puja.
The day is very significant for the Sikh community. In 1619, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, Guru Hargobind Ji was released from prison. Guru Hargobind Ji had also asked arranged for the release of 52 Hindu kings. These kings were released along with Guru Hargobind Ji on Diwali. The foundation of the Golden Temple was also laid on the day of Diwali in 1577.
It was on Diwali that the founder of Jainism, Mahavir Tirthankar, attained Nirvana. The Nirvana occurred on October 15, 527 BC.