Deepawali or Diwali is the biggest and the brightest festival of Hindu. Diwali literally means a “Row of Lights.” It is a time filled with light and love. Diwali also called Divali, Deepavali is a five-day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha of the Hindu calendar month Karthik and ends on Bhaubeej, celebrated on the second lunar day of Shukla paksha of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. Deepawali is celebrated on kartik amavasyaa (15th krishan paksha).In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November.
The Diwali or Deepavali festival marks the victory of good over evil. The Sanskrit word “Deepavali” means “an array of lights” and signifies the victory of brightness over darkness. As the knowledge of Sanskrit diminished, the name was popularly modified to Diwali.
On Diwali, the goddess Laxmi, a symbol of prosperity, is worshipped. People wear new clothes, share sweets and light firecrackers. The business community usually starts their financial new year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.
Related to Return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya:
The most famous legend behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the prince of Ayodhya Nagri – Lord Shri Ram. The king of Lanka, Ravana, kidnapped Ram’s wife – Sita from the jungle, where they were staying as per the instructions of King Dashratha, father of Lord Ram. In order to freed Sita from Ravana’s custody, Ram attacked him. This was followed by a war, in which, Ram defeated Ravan and released Sita from his custody. Rama returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya were very happy to hear of their beloved prince’s homecoming. To celebrate Rama’s return to Ayodhya, they lit up their houses with earthen lamps (diyas) and decorated the entire city in the grandest manner.
Goddess Lakshmi Incarnation:
On the auspicious new moon day, which is ‘Amavasyaa’ of the Hindi month of Kartik, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Lakshmi was incarnated. She appeared during the churning of the ocean, which is known as ‘Samudra Manthan’, by the demons on one side and ‘Devataas’ (Gods) on the other side. Therefore, the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the Lakshmi Pujan, on the day of Diwali, became a tradition.
Return of Pandavas:
Mahabharata reveals to us how the five royal brothers, the Pandavas, suffered a defeat in the hands of their brothers, the Kauravas, in a game of dice (gambling). As a rule imposed on them, the Pandavas had to serve a term of 13 years in exile. When the period was over, they returned to their birthplace Hastinapura on ‘Kartik Amavashya’ (the new moon day of the Kartik month). The five Pandava brothers, their mother and their wife Draupadi were honest, kind, gentle and caring in their ways and were loved by all their subjects. To celebrate the joyous occassion of their return to Hastinapura and to welcome back the Pandavas, the common people illuminated their state by lighting bright earthen lamps everywhere. The tradition is believed to have been kept alive through the festival of Diwali, which many believe, is held in remembrance of the Pandava brothers’ homecoming.
Demon Narakasur Destroyed by Lord Krishna:
One famous story behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the demon king Narakasur, who was ruler of Pragjyotishpur, a province to the South of Nepal. After acquiring victory over Lord Indra during a war, Narakasur snatched away the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi, who was not only the ruler of Suraloka, but also a relative of Lord Krishna’s wife – Satyabhama. Narakasur also imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of Gods and saints in his harem. With the support of Lord Krishna, Satyabhama defeated Narakasur, released all the women from his harem and restored the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi.
Coronation of King Vikramaditya :
Another legend or story about Diwali celebrations relates to one of the greatest Hindu King – Vikramaditya. It was the day when he was coroneted and the people celebrated this event by lighting tiny earthen ‘diyas’.