India is a land of
festivals. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated
with fervor and gaiety. The festival is celebrated by
young and old, rich and poor, throughout the country to
dispel darkness and light up their lives. The festival
symbolizes unity in diversity as every state celebrates
it in its own special way.
Ramayana, Diwali commemorates the return of Ram, an
incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the eldest son of King
Dasharath of Ayodhya, from his 14-year exile with Sita
and Lakshman after killing the Ravan, a demon king. The
people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen
diyas (oil lamps) and fireworks to celebration of the
return of their king.
In rural areas, Diwali signifies Harvest Festival.
Diwali which occurs at the end of a cropping season has
along with the above custom, a few others that reinforce
the hypothesis of its having originated as a harvest.
Every harvest normally spelt prosperity. The celebration
was first started in India by farmers after they reaped
their harvests. They celebrated with joy and offered
praises to God for granting them a good crop.
During the reign of Emperor Prithu, there was a
worldwide famine. He ordered that all available
cultivatable lands be ploughed. When the rains came, the
land became very fertile and grains were planted. The
harvest provided food not only to feed all of India, but
for all civilization. This harvest was close to Diwali
time and was a good reason to celebrate Diwali with
great joy and merriment by a wider community.
When Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasur on the day before
Diwali, the news of it traveled very rapidly thought the
land.It gave people who were already in a joyful mood,
another reason for celebrating Diwali with greater pride
In the Adi Parva of the Mahabarat , the Pandavas
returned from the forest during Diwali time. Once more,
the celebrations extended beyond the boundaries of India
to wherever Hindus lived.
It is on the same day of Amavasya Swami Dayananda
Saraswati, that leonine sanyasin who was one of the
first to light the torch of Hindu Renaissance during the
last century, passed into Eternity. Swami Ramatirtha who
carried the fragrance of the spiritual message of Hindu
Dharma to the western world, also passed into eternity.
The lights kindled on this day also mark the attempt of
their followers to immortalize the sacred memories of
those great men who lived to brighten the lives of
millions of their fellow beings. The passage of these
great men have indeed brought the national-cum-spiritual
tradition of Deepavali right up to modern times.
perspective, Diwali is celebrated as the return of the
sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji from the captivity of the
city, Gwalior. History states two commonly known reasons
for his imprisonment. One is that the Muslim Raja
approached Guru Hargobind Ji upon his entering Gwalior
and told the Guru to denounce his Sikh religion and to
join the Muslim faith. With the intention of utilizing
the Guruís great strength and fearlessness needed in
battles. Being outraged by this request, the Guru
rejected his proposition. In retaliation he captured the
Guru and held him against his will. But eventually the
Guru managed to free himself of this unjust imprisonment
and returned to his beloved town of Amritsar. To
commemorate his undying love for Sikhism, the
townspeople lit the way to, Harmandhir Sahib (referred
to as the Golden Temple), in his honor. For more about
Diwali for Sikhs Click Here.
Among the Jain
festivals, Diwali is one of the most important one. For
on this occasion we celebrate the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira
who established the dharma as we follow it. Lord
Mahavira was born as Vardhamana on Chaitra Shukla 13 in
the Nata clan at Khattiya-kundapura, near Vaishali. He
obtained Kevala Gyana on Vishakha Shukla 10 at the
Jambhraka village on the banks of Rijukula river at the
age of 42. He initiated his shaashan (Jaina-shashana) on
Shravana KrashNa 1 at his first assembly at Rajgrah.
After having preached the dharma for 30 years, he
attained Nirvana at Pava, at the age of 71 years and 6
and half months. For more about Diwali for Jains Click