A Diwali lamp (Media credt/WikiMedia)Hey everyone! Happy Diwali! Even if you aren’t Hindu, take a second to light a candle, a diya (a small earthenware candle), or if you’re really ambitious, a firecracker.

Diwali’s roots vary throughout India. As one traverses India’s gorgeous landscape, one can uncover a plethora of different mythological tales to explain Diwali’s origins.

Many see it as a day to celebrate Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, by adorning her alter at the temple with money or pictures of material goods. Some gamble on Diwali too, because, as the legend goes, the goddess Parvati played dice with her husband on Diwali and declared anyone who gambled on the same day would fair extremely well.

The most popular tale

The most widely told Diwali tale goes like this:

Prince Rama was chosen by his father to become the new king of Ayodhya. The Queen Kaikeyi however, though initially ecstatic, is poisoned by her servant and begins to fear for the future of Rama’s brother, Bharata. The servant leads her to beleive Rama will do terrible things to Bharata to keep power in the kingdom. Because Kaikeyi saved her husband’s life earlier, the king promises to comply with her wish that he banish Rama from Ayodhya.

Rama obeys and, along with his wife Sita, descends into the dark, gloomy and ominous forest. While there his‚ wife is kidnapped by the demon Ravan, the ten-armed, ten-headed king from Sri Lanka. Rama, devastated and depressed, sets out on a mission to find his lost wife. When he eventually does, after conquering several emotional and physical obstacles over the course of years, he kills Ravan and retrieves his wife. Rama and Sita then journey back towards Ayodhya.

As the two near their kingdom, it is pitch black out. No moon and, of course, no street lights. Villagers hear of their approach and, to help them find their way, light candles outside their homes so they could safely find their way home.

When the two finally find their way back, with the help of kind villagers, Rama is crowned as king.

And thus began the celebration of Diwali; the festival of lights.

I’m off to celebrate. Happy Diwali!

About The Author

Sachin Seth is the Blast Magazine world news reporter. He writes the Terra blog. You can visit his website at http://sachinseth.com or follow him on twitter @sachinseth

One Response

  1. Kala kalyanram

    Diwali is celebrated in South India as it signifies the triumph of good over evil. In south India the widespread belief is the on this day, Lord Krishna triumphed over the demon king Narakasura. The Narakasur Legend of Diwali goes like this.Narkasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He was giant who was often good but at times, behaved very badly. He used to kidnap beautiful young women and force them to live with him.

    The gods asked Lord Krishna for help, and after a mighty battle he killed the demon, freed the girls and recovered the earrings First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster that guarded the demon’s home. The rescue of the 16,000 girls is said to be the origin of the story that Krishna had 16,000 wives, Krishna granted Narakasur one last request, because of the good deeds he had done. Narkasura hoped that his death might bring joy to others. So, before being killed, he cried, ” Let this day be celebrated as a day of feasting in the World!” Krishna granted his request and the women were freed.

    After his victory Krishna returned very early in the morning and was bathed and massaged with scented oils. Taking an early morning bath with oil is still a Deepavali tradition.For Hindus, this Diwali story is a reminder that good can defeat evil.

    But this Diwali legend is known only in the Western and Southern India, it is not known in the north and east. In Western and Southern India Hindus smash a bitter fruit (called Kaarita) with their big toe on Naraka-chaturdashi day. This is done after having a ceremonial bath in which sandalwood paste and sweet smelling essences are used to re-enact the slaying of the demon Narakasura by Lord Sri Krishna. This Narakachaturdashi day therefore is dedicated to lights and prayers heralding a future full of joy and laughter.


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