Why is Diwali celebrated?
Travel is not just about hopping from one point to another, it is also about learning and embracing other cultures.
Diwali remains the biggest Indian festival to date and is probably India’s most known festival in the world and is also popularly known as 'festival of lights',.
Diwali or Deepawali remains an extremely significant festival for the Indian culture and specifically Hinduism practicing people.
Though the festival is as grand as the world celebrating Christmas with streets and houses lit, the reasoning to celebrate it is markedly different from celebrating Christmas.
People not living in the Indian sub-continent may not be aware of it and that’s what this blog attempts to explain.
We shall try explaining below in simple words with some references to explain you better.
Please note this is the briefest version we could have composed. There are a lot of background stories involved . We have installed hyperlinks to important people in case you would like to read more about them.
The historical importance of Diwali comes from the biggest Indian epic ‘Ramayana’. The epic is a jollification of victory of good over evil.
The star in this epic is our humble Lord Rama who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, one of the ‘3 major lords’ in Hinduism.
On the other side we have the evil King Ravana who is not only one of the most knowledgeable and most powerful person (imagine Thanos but with 10000 times the force with his infinity stones) to grace earth but also someone who is too proud of his strengths and considers himself invincible.
He rules the kingdom of Lanka with millions of soldiers and monsters under his command.
So here goes the story…
Lord Rama is born in a royal family and is about to ascend the throne from his father after his marriage to Goddess Sita whose beauty was considered to be unmatched by anyone.
He has a step mother ‘Kaikeyi’ who wants her kids to become the kings instead so she utilizes the boon that her husband gave her in the past i.e. she shall have 2 demands that he ensures he will fulfil, like a genie.
So she puts forth her two demands to Lord Rama’s father right before the moment Rama is about to ascend the throne:
1) Instead of Rama, her son Bharat should be made the king.
2) Rama should be sent on a 14 year exile
To cut things short, Lord Rama happily obliges being the obedient child. Sita and Rama’s sibling brother Laxmana accompany him for these testing times.
Rama, Laxman and Sita move to the forest and set themselves to live 14 years in there.
Meanwhile, Ravana is informed about a woman named Sita and of her incredible beauty. He cannot accept the fact that the most beautiful woman is not by his side but instead with an exiled prince living in the forest.
Rama is out fetching a precious gift for Sita. Time passes but he does not return. Out of worry, Laxmana goes to fetch Rama. At this moment, Ravana kidnaps Sita.
Rama returns and is told of the tragedy.
He is enraged and vows to avenge this separation from the love of his life.
He knows it will not be easy to defeat and kill Ravana all by himself considering Ravana’s strength and his huge army.
Enter Hanuman, who if the epic is to be believed, could have 'single handedly' killed Ravana and his entire army but does not do so because he was never ‘asked’ to! That was the stature of his strength and ability.
Learning about Rama, Hanuman quickly becomes his devotee and declares his only purpose in life is to serve Rama and do as he says.
Long story short, Rama manages to forms alliances and creates an army from scratch. Rama, Laxman, Hanuman and their army enter Lanka and wreak havoc in the region to the shock of Ravana.
Ultimately comes the final face off between Ravana and Lord Rama. After days of fighting, Rama finally manages to defeat Ravana.
He gets Sita back safe and sound and finally returns to his hometown after 14 years which is lit up and decorated to welcome everyone back.
This ‘return’ is what we still celebrate even today!
There are traces of Ramayana in both India & Sri Lanka, something that adds up to the experience of traveling in these countries.
We hope you liked this brief explanation and it offered you some insight into why Diwali is celebrated.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Diwali across the globe.