Diwali popularly known as the “festival of lights” is a festival celebrated mainly by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains.
Diwali is a contraction of “Deepavali” (Sanskrit: दीपावली), which translates into “row of lamps”. The main celebration of Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (dīpa in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.
It is basically a five day festival which starts from Dhanteras (Dhanatrayodashi) and ends on Bhai Dooj (Yama Dvitiya).
Legends & Stories associated with Festival of Lights :
Diwali Legend About Goddess Lakshmi :
As per Hindu Mythology, Diwali is the birth anniversary of the Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. As per the legends, Goddess Lakshmi was re-incarnated on the amavasya (new moon day) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin during the samudra-manthan by the Gods and Demons. Hence Lakshmi Poojan is performed on the Diwali day to seek blessings from Goddess of wealh and prosperity. It is the 3rd day of the five day Diwali festival.
Diwali Legend About Lord Krishna :
As per Hindu Mythology, a day before the Diwali day, i.e., fourteenth day of the krishna paksh (dark phase) of Hindu calendar month Ashwin, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakasur and rescued 16,000 women from his imprisonment, whom he later accepted as his wives in order to save them from any kind of public embarrassment. This day is known as Narak Chaturdashi and it is the 2nd day of the five day Diwali festival.
Diwali Legend About Lord Rama :
Accoding to the ‘Ramayana’, on the amavasya (new moon day) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin, Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman returned to his kingdom after killing the ten headed demon king Ravana. Lord Rama had returned to Ayodhya after an exile period of 14 years and hence citizens of Ayodhya overjoyed by the return of their dear prince lightened the entire Ayodhya city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before. It was when the first ‘ Diwali’ was celebrated.
Diwali Legend About Pandavas :
According to the ‘Mahabharata’, on the amavasya (new moon day) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin, Pandavas returned from 12 year exile and they were welcomed by the people of their hometown by lighting earthen lamps. Since then Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Pandava brothers after a long rigorous exile.
Diwali Legend About Lord Mahavira :
According to Jainism, Diwali is the day on which Lord Mahivara, the 24th and the last Tirthankara attained Nirvana or Moksha. On the midnight of the Diwali day, soul of Mahavira left his body and attained liberation, Moksha. Eighteen kings of northern India were present in his audience at the time of His final sermon. They decided that the light of their master’s knowledge should be kept alive symbolically by lighting of lamps. Hence the day is known as Deepavali or Diwali, (Deep means a lamp and avali means series or multiple).