Diwali – Story behind The Festival of Lights

The Story Of Diwali

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil, lightness over darkness, happiness over sorrow & hope over despair. Diwali is celebrated throughout many different religions & cultures & Diwali day is a public holiday in many countries as well. It is our largest celebration in the year & usually falls between October & November on a new moon.

Happy-diwali-

Customs: Diwali is a time to celebrate prosperity. Prayer is offered especially to the Goddess Laxmi who is the deity of wealth, fertility & prosperity.  She is welcomed into homes by the lighting of diyas (clay lamps with oil & cotton). People clean, decorate & renovate their homes. On Diwali day you wear new clothes & take part in festivities.

Lakshmi Maa

Diwali day is a day free of meat & alcohol. Various foods, fruits & sweet meats are consumed with families & everyone lights diyas  in & around their homes.

Diwali-Food-t

mithai

diya1

People also decorate their floors with coloured powders. These designs are called Rangoli.

rangoli-designs-1

Family & friends across the globe wish each other & celebrate many days. Diwali night ends in lighting firecrackers & a beautiful display of fireworks.

golden-temple-fireworks

Diwali is celebrated differently in different cultures and religions. The reason for celebration also varies. Today I will share the Hindu celebration of Diwali & the story behind it.

In Hinduism, the divine trinity consists of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) & Shiva (the destroyer). Vishnu often reincarnated to earth in different avatars & came to the assistance of humans on earth when they were in despair.

Brahma Vishnu Mahesh
Brahma (Left) Vishnu (Middle) Shiva (Right)

The Story – Ithihas . . .

Diwali is the story of the return of Ram (the 7th avatar of Lord Vishnu), his wife & brother to the kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14 year exile. It is documented in the ancient Sanskrit Scripture of Ramayana written by the sage Valmiki.

In the scripture, there was King Dasharath ruler of Ayodhya who had 3 wives – Kausalya, Kaikeyi & Sumitra.

wives

Kausalya was the eldest Queen and gave birth to Ram, the king’s first born.

Kaikeyi (the King’s favourite) gave birth to Bharat

Sumitra gave birth to Lakshman & Shatrughan.

sons

All the queens loved all the children equally. Ram was the eldest & the favourite. Kaikeyi loved Ram more than the other children even though he wasn’t her birth son. He was an obedient, wise, kind & loving son. Everyone was drawn to him & loved him unconditionally.

rama king

Kaikeyi’s maid Manthara influenced her & turned Kaikeyi bitter & jealous of Ram. She explained that when Ram (heir to the throne) would be crowned King , Kaikeyi would no longer be Chief Queen.

manthara

Kaikeyi asked the King that he repay a boon he made to her many years when she saved his life on the battle field. She asked that he crown her birth son, Bharat, as King and to banish Ram to the forest for 14 years. Bharat didn’t wish to be crowned King because he knew his eldest brother Ram was the rightful heir & loved him dearly. No matter how much the King tried, the Queen wouldn’t change her mind.

BANISHED1

Ram wanted to respect Kaikeyi’s wishes & agreed to go into exile. The King then renounced Kaikeyi as his queen and she remained in her quarters by herself with her maid. Bharat renounced his mother as well, & kept a pair of Ram’s sandals on the throne, vowing that he should be crowned King when he returned from exile. Ram’s wife Sita & his brother Lakshman, who loved him the most, went into exile with Ram. The King died of grief and heartache 6 days after they left the kingdom.

send off

lord_rama_sita_and_lakshmana_in_exile_wk62

They traveled to different villages throughout the forests for several years. Ram was loved everywhere he went & many people became his devotees.

devotee

One day while Ram & Lakshman went to gather food & left Sita in their hut alone, she was abducted by the Demon Ten-Headed King Ravan.

Ravan_abducting_Sita

She was kept in a garden in his kingdom in (Sri) Lanka. Ravan wanted to have Sita to himself but she refused & sat & waited for Ram for years.

sita-ravan_20161122_112358_21_11_2016

Ram, Lakshman & an army led by Hunuman (a devotee of Ram) headed from India to (Sri) Lanka via a bridge that they built of rocks.

rama-bridge1

Ram killed Ravan in battle, rescued Sita & brought her back to India.

battle

They were set to return to Ayodhya and the night they got close to the kingdom, they could see lights in the distance. It was a new moon night & the sky was dark so the entire kingdom of Ayodhya lit “diyas” to light their way home & to welcome them.

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RamSita return

This is the celebration of Diwali. The triumph of good over evil.

Woman hand lighting diva's

Here’s wishing you all a Happy Diwali & prosperous new year ahead! As always, questions are welcome below 🙂

Love & Light x

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