As kids, we were told that Diwali celebrations are all about capturing the essence of the victory of good over evil, right? However, as vast as our motherland, do you know that the festival of lights is also celebrated for different reasons in different states? Though our Indian culture holds the same significance, many rituals hold different practices across India.
This includes Diwali celebrations as well. Many historical events have influenced the way it’s celebrated in different communities. So, let’s have a look at some of those historical events:
Ayodhya welcomed Lord Ram after he defeated Ravana
This is why Diwali celebrations in Ayodhya are one of a kind! It commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with his brother Laxman and wife Sita, after their conquest of Ravana and Lanka. Mythological stories tell us that during that time Ayodhya looked like an illuminated diamond in the sky!
Goddess Lakshmi chose to be with Lord Vishnu
Goddess Lakshmi was born from the churning of the oceans (Samudra Manthan). However, the devas and asuras sought immortality from the ocean. When Goddess Lakshmi emerged, she chose Lord Vishnu. Some believe that Diwali is all about celebrating their union! Most people in Northern India worships Goddess Laxmi during this occasion.
Hastinapur rejoiced the return of the Pandavas after 12 years
Diwali means the return of the Pandavas after their 12-year of vanvas, as depicted in Mahabharata. It was Kartik Amavasya when they returned to Hastinapur and the moon was not there to illuminate their path. Hence, the entire kingdom decided to light up earthen lamps. Some believe this is the foundation on which Diwali stands.
Jains celebrate Diwali for the enlightenment of Mahavira
For the unversed, Vardhaman Mahavira was the last of the 24 Tirthankaras. Diwali celebrations for Jains signify the enlightenment of Mahavira. As he finally attained nirvana and detachment from all earthly desires. For the Jains, it is all about celebrating that spirit.
Demon Narakasura was defeated by Lord Krishna
In some parts of India, Diwali celebrations start a day before as Naraka Chaturdashi. It’s to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura and freeing 16,000 women from captivity.
Guru Hargobind returned from Mughal captivity
In 1619, Diwali celebrations signified the freedom of Guru Hargobind Ji from years of captivity. Mughal emperor Jahangir freed him along with 52 other Hindu kings. Sikhs celebrate his return as Bandi Chhor Divas, the same day as Diwali. It takes the form of a grand festival, mainly in Punjab.
Some Eastern states honor Goddess Kali
Those who have grown up in the Northern part of the country can always relate Diwali with Goddess Laxmi. However, some Eastern states worship Goddess Kali instead. West Bengal, Assam, and Odisha, worship Goddess Kali in a grand way.
Farmers celebrate the end of the harvest season
Kharif season – when fresh crop pops up – occurs in November. This also means the end of a harvest season. Back in the day, for farmers, Diwali celebrations were offering gratitude to the Gods for a good crop yield and harvest season.
Many states consider it as Hindu new year
Forget December 31, Diwali means a new year in some parts of India! Many shop owners, merchants, and businessmen close their accounts for the year and seek the blessings of Goddesses Lakshmi for next year. Diwali is called Bestu Varsh in Gujarat a day later.
Indeed there are differences in origin stories of Diwali and how they are celebrated across various cultures, but one thing that is the same for everyone is the joy that this festival brings. Advance Happy Diwali 2018! Stay safe, stay bright!