Diwali is one of the grandest festivals and celebrated by many communities in Wales, including the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Newar Buddhists. Diwali is also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’. It marks the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.
Now, let’s learn about the origin of this festival. Diwali has ancient roots in India, and its origin dates back thousands of years. According to Hindu mythology, Diwali is the celebration of Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in Ayodhya after defeating the evil demon king Ravana. Their return to Ayodhya was marked by lighting up the entire kingdom with oil lamps and candles, thus symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness.
In the past, Diwali was celebrated by lighting up oil lamps or diyas and bursting firecrackers. People would dress up in traditional attire, decorate their houses with rangolis and lights, and prepare special dishes.
The story of Ramayana is set in the Treta Yuga, which is believed to have occurred between 1,296,000 and 864,000 years ago according to Hindu mythology. The exact date of the occurrence of this event is not known, but it is believed to have occurred several thousand years ago.
Diwali is associated with various mythologies and stories in India. Some other mythology stories related to Diwali other than Ramayana are:
1. The story of King Bali and Lord Vishnu: According to this story, King Bali was a demon king who acquired immense power and started challenging the gods. Lord Vishnu, in the avatar of Vaman, approached him and asked for land measuring three steps. When Bali agreed, Vaman transformed into a giant and covered the Earth and heavens in two steps. For the third step, Bali offered his head and was banished to the underworld. He was granted a boon to visit his people once a year, which is celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Padwa. This story is believed to have occurred in the Satya Yuga, which is the first and the longest of the four Yugas according to Hindu mythology. It is estimated to have occurred more than 1.7 million years ago.
A few more stories around Diwali celebration are believed to have occurred in the later part of the Dwapara Yuga, which occurred after the Treta Yuga. It is estimated to have occurred several thousand years ago, but the exact dates are not known.
2. The story of Krishna and Narakasura: This story is linked to the southern part of India, where it is believed that Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakasura, who had terrorized the people. The day before Diwali is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi to commemorate the victory of good over evil. This story is believed to have occurred in the Dwapara Yuga, which occurred after the Treta Yuga. The exact date is not known, but it is believed to have occurred several thousand years ago.
3. The story of Lakshmi Puja: It is believed that on the auspicious day of Diwali, goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, visits the Earth and blesses her devotees with wealth and happiness. People light lamps and candles to welcome her and perform Lakshmi Puja to seek her blessings.
4. The story of return of Pandavas: According to the Mahabharata, after thirteen years of exile, the Pandavas returned to their kingdom on the day of Diwali. People lit lamps to welcome them and celebrated their return.
Diwali is celebrated over five days.
Day 1: People clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune.
Day 2: People decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using coloured powders or sand.
Day 3: On the main day of the festival, families gather together for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi, followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities.
Day 4: This is the first day of the new year, when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season.
Day 5: Brothers visit their married sisters, who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.
Diwali is a public holiday in the following countries:
- Sri Lanka
In conclusion, Diwali is a festival that teaches us about the power of good over evil and the importance of spreading light and happiness. It is a time for families and loved ones to come together and celebrate in unity.
So, let us light up our lives, not only with diyas and lights but also with positivity, love, and kindness.
Manjushaw Gurindapalli, Education and Volunteering Community Officer at Llandudno Museum