|Diwali - Legends|
One legend related to Diwali is that of Lord Rama. Lord Rama, the eldest son of King Dasaratha was a virtuous young man and inevitably he was to succeed the King and rule the Kingdom of Ayodhya. But destiny had something else in store for him, for he was not the King’s only son. Kaikayee, Rama’s stepmother wanted her son to be the King of Ayodhya. No one could blame her, for it was her affection for her own son Bharat that made her so selfish. After all every mother wishes the best of all things for her son no matter what the consequences. But her affection for her son proved to be a curse for Rama. King Dasaratha was forced to send Rama to exile for fourteen long years. So began the saga of love and sacrifice. Rama with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakhsman set out on an unknown journey. It was during this time that the alluring beauty of Sita bewitched the demon King Ravana. And so one day, when Sita was alone, Ravana came there in the disguise of a saint. Sita, "Biksham dehi, Biksham dehi" he begged of her. Sita, generous as she was, didn’t have the heart to send the saint empty-handed. The moment she stepped out of the threshold, Ravana secretly whisked her off to his Kingdom – Lanka.
Thus began the search for his beloved wife. Rama with his younger brother Lakshman set out on a conquest against Ravana. It was not an easy task to defeat the indomitable ten-headed demon Ravana but nevertheless after a colossal battle, which went on for ten days, the evil demon was vanquished. Thus the triumphant Rama returned to his Kingdom. The people of Ayodhya were jubilant; they lit the streets with thousands of tiny Divas to welcome their Lord. Thus was celebrated the first ever Diwali in the History of India and tradition continues and will continue for thousands of year to come. Rama’s life, his struggle against the evil and his victory over the wicked demon are symbolic of the journey of life, the journey through darkness to the light of knowledge where we have to put an end to ignorance and evil thoughts, which subdues humanity. The fundamental truth being that the light of knowledge engulfs the darkness of ignorance.
According to some people, the origin of Diwali is attributed to the annihilation of Narakasura by Krishna. Naraka – the evil King of Pragjotishpura in Assam created havoc in his kingdom. He abducted women and slaughtered the men. The oppressed people cried out for help and it was then that the benign Lord Krishna graced them with his blessings. He bravely fought the evil tyrant and finally subdued him with his divine powers; thus the people were liberated. The people celebrated this victory in a grand manner, and thus began the celebration of Diwali in this part of India.
Indians celebrate the festival with great fervor throughout the world.
As a sequel to the festival of Dussehra, the celebrations for Diwali begin as soon as Dussehra festivities end. Women are busy in preparing variety of sweets, which ranges from the Chaklis, to the really sweet Karanjis and of course the Motichoor laddoos. The festival is celebrated for five days and each day holds as much relevance as the other does. Each of the day traces its origin to some of the chapters of Hindu Mythology.
On Deepavali day, people wake up early and offer their prayers to goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha. The day is spent in visiting relatives and exchanging gifts and sweets. But as the twilight sets in, the streets light up with innumerable shimmering lamps. The firecrackers create an elegant pattern in the night sky. Women decorate the threshold with colorful Rangolis. All this to welcome Goddess Lakshmi - the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.