The History and Significance of Diwali: A Guide to the Origins, Legends and Customs of the Hindu Festival

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Diwali is one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in Hinduism. It is also known as the Festival of Lights, as it symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.

Diwali has a rich and diverse history, spanning thousands of years and various regions of India. According to some scholars, Diwali dates back to the ancient harvest festival of the Indus Valley Civilization, which marked the end of the summer season and the beginning of a new year.

However, there are many other legends and stories associated with Diwali, depending on the different traditions and beliefs of Hinduism. Some of the most popular ones are:

The return of Lord Rama: This is the most widely accepted and celebrated story of Diwali. It tells how Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, rescued his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, who had abducted her. After a long and epic battle, Rama defeated Ravana and returned to his kingdom of Ayodhya with Sita and his loyal brother Lakshmana. The people of Ayodhya welcomed them by lighting lamps and candles all over the city, thus creating a night of brightness and joy.

The birth of Goddess Lakshmi: Another story relates Diwali to the birth of Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu and the goddess of wealth, prosperity, and beauty. According to this story, Lakshmi emerged from the ocean of milk during the churning of the cosmic ocean by the gods and demons. She chose Vishnu as her husband and blessed him with her divine qualities. On Diwali, Hindus worship Lakshmi and seek her blessings for a prosperous and happy life.

The defeat of Narakasura: A third story involves another avatar of Vishnu, Lord Krishna, who killed the tyrant king Narakasura, who had terrorized the people and imprisoned many women. Krishna freed the captives and restored peace and justice to the land. He also recovered the precious earrings of his mother Aditi, which Narakasura had stolen. The day of Narakasura’s death is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi, which is the day before Diwali. On this day, people take an early morning bath, apply oil and fragrances to their bodies, and wear new clothes.

Diwali is celebrated for five days in most parts of India, with each day having its own significance and rituals. The first day is Dhanteras, which means “the day of wealth”. On this day, people buy gold, silver, or other valuable items as a sign of good luck and prosperity. They also worship Dhanvantari, the god of health and medicine

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