'Festival of Lights' or Deepavali is a festival which
has the potential of unifying entire India because of the charisma and
splendor surrounding this festival. Diwali has been given the
traditional name of 'festival of lights' because of the hundreds and
thousands of small oil lamps or diyas lighted by many households. The
burning of these diyas are considered to be the lighted pathway of a
person's expression of happiness and also a manner of paying obeisance
to God, the Supreme power for attainment of health, prosperity,
knowledge, financial security and peace in one's life.
'The festival of lights' is celebrated with much enthusiasm and zeal in
all of north India. In fact the festival of Diwali is regarded to bring
the supernatural joy and brightness in a person's life with the hope of
discovering light amidst darkness, achieving happiness in place of
ignorance and spreading of love amidst hatred and violence. The
tradition of lighting the diyas on Diwali holds much importance as in
Hindu mythology the light signifies goodness and vitality. In cities
candles and classy neon lights often substitute these diyas.
The idea behind the lighting of diyas and candles on the festival of
lights comes from a number of stories as mentioned in the Hindu
mythology. The most famous of these stories is the story revolving
around Lord Ram and his family. Diwali celebrates the homecoming of Lord
Ram, who according to a legend came home to Ayodhya after defeating the
evil Ravana and spending fourteen years in exile. Diwali is also the day
of Lord Ram's coronation. According to a popular legend King Dashratha
had three wives by the names of Kaushalaya, Keykayee and Sumitra who had
four sons Ram, Bharat, Laxmana and Shatrughan. Lord Ram, the son of
Queen Kaushalaya was the eldest of all four brothers while Bharat was
the son of Queen Keykayee.
Queen Keykayee wanted her son Bharat to be the future king of Ayodhya
while King Dashratha decided to coronate Ram to be the future king.
Keykayee on getting to know about the decision of king Dashratha decided
to ask the king for two wishes which he had promised her earlier in
life. For her two wishes Keykayee asked for sending Ram to exile for the
period of fourteen years and to crown Bharat as the king, though Bharat
refused to accept the kingship. Well Ram went to exile accompanied with
his younger brother Lakshman and wife Sita. During exile King Ravana of
Lanka abducted Sita and Lord ram had to fight a fierce battle in the
southern part of the Indian sub-continent with ravana.
During this fight the king of the demons was killed and Lord Ram came
back to Ayodhya along with His brother and wife. Deepavali marks his
victorious return to his kingdom along with Hanuman, the Vanar who
helped him in achieving success. The legend states it took 20 days for
Rama to return to his kingdom after defeating Ravana. As with other
Indian festivals, Diwali signifies many different things to people
across the country. Like in Gujarat, the festival is celebrated to honor
goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, it is related
with goddess Kali. Though everywhere, it is celebrated with the same
sprit and signifies the renewal of life.