Diwali: History behind the Grand Festival of India

When you heard of the word Diwali, things come to the mind are Lakshmi Pooja, sweets, lights and crackers. It is the biggest festival of India. India- A place of different cultures and religions. Diwali has its own significance for every religion and it’s important to everyone with a different meaning. Different religions celebrate it for different reasons. Indians celebrate Diwali from ancient times and almost with the same method: everyone starts the cleaning of the house few days prior to Diwali (Deepavali). People visit their near and dear ones with sweets and good wishes. On the day of the festival, houses are lightened with lights and Diyas. In the evening, everyone does Pooja, after which, mostly everyone burns the crackers and enjoy the festival of lights. It has a very interesting history.


It is one of the ancient festivals of the country. Different religions have different reasons to celebrate Diwali.

Hindu Religion:

There are many sub-division in the Hindu religion itself. There are many different stories behind the celebrations:


Ramayana is well known to almost everybody. It has been taught in schools, seen on televisions, movies or serials. According to the story, When Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, decided to go to the forest for 14 years with his wife, Sita, and brother, Lakshmana, during that period, Ravana, the king of Lanka (today’s known as Sri Lanka) abducted Sita to Lanka. To rescue her, Rama fought with Ravana and killed him. When they returned to Ayodhya after 14 years, the people were happy to see their prince after such a long time. TO celebrate the homecoming of Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana, the people lit up their houses with diyas (earthen lamps), burst crackers and decorated the city.

Every year, the statue of Ravana is burnt by the Dhanush (considered to be of Rama), known as Dushehra. After 20 days of Dushehra, Diwali is celebrated. This is the difference between the days when Ravana was killed by Rama and the day, they returned to Ayodhya.


Another well-known story related to Diwali is of Mahabharata. When the Kauravas defeated the Pandavas, their cousins’, in gambling, they had to serve 13 years in banishment. They returned to Hastinapura (their hometown), on the new moon day of Kartik month (Kartik Amavashya) after 13 years. So, the people of the town celebrated their return by lightening earthen lamps everywhere in the town.


As per Bhagavata Purana, Lord Vishnu defeated King Bali (demon king) on the Kartik Day (Diwali Day). He was cruel to the devas and ruled the earth. He became unconquerable by worshiping Lord Brahma and getting a desirable blessing. To defeat him and to save the earth, Lord Vishnu took the form of a dwarf Brahmin and went to Mahabali (Bali). The king tried to help him and was trapped under the trick and gave up all his kingdom and wealth. So, this way he was defeated.


Another goes on like this, according to Bhagavata Purana, there was a Naraksura, a demon king, who acquired the powers of both earth and heaven and started ruling them. It is believed that Lord Vishnu killed him a day before Diwali and rescued many women from his place. Hence, after that, both the world celebrated the occasion, which today, is celebrated as Diwali.

Kali Pooja:

As per another legend, Goddess Durga gave birth to Goddess Kali from her forehead, to save the world demons. Even after killing all the devils, Kali couldn’t control herself and started killing anyone on her way. To stop her, Lord Shiva took the form of a child and laid down on her path. When she stepped her foot on him, she suddenly realized that it’s her husband Lord Shiva. She stopped in horror and regret. The Kali avatar came under control and Goddess Durga came back in her form. In many parts of India, they celebrate Kali Pooja at the same time as Diwali.


In 56 BC, on the day of Diwali, the legendary Hindu king, Vikramaditya, was renowned for his bravery, kind-heartedness, and wisdom. On this very day, he became the king. The citizens of Vikramaditya’s kingdom celebrated the day lightening the earthen lamps. As per some of the historians, this event gave rise to the real Diwali ritual.

Maharshi Dayanand:

Maharshi Dayanand founded the Arya Samaj (Society of Nobels) in 1875. It is believed that on the Kartik Day, Swami Dayanand Saraswati was enlightened (succeed in achieving Nirvana). That day, he became ‘Maharshi’ Dayanand (the great sage Dayanand). On Diwali, everyone remembers this great personality by heart.

Although these stories are famous in Hindu religion, mostly it is considered that Diwali is a festival of Rama and Sita. In many places, people play the characters of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and Ravana as a stage play, and depicts the story: From the abduction of Sita to the return of all of them to Ayodhya.

Jain Religion:

On Oct. 15, 527 B.C., it is believed that Vardhamana Mahavira (the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankaras of the Jains, the founder of modern Jainism) was enlightened. They celebrate the Diwali to recall his teachings and to show respect for him. Apart from that, they believe that after enlightenment, the soul is free from the body. So, to celebrate this liberty, they celebrate Diwali.

Sikh Religion:

In 1619, the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir hold/ imprisoned the 6th Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, in the Gwalior Fort. When Jahangir set him free from the imprisonment, he refused it. He said that he would not leave alone but take all the Hindu Kings imprisoned along with him. To this, the King said that how many people are able to hold your kurta can leave with you. In return, he held another condition in front of the Emperor, that he would leave only if he would get a Kurta (upper dress) with 52 strings attached to it. By this, he rescued all the 52 Kings and brought them back to their lands. To celebrate the return of Guru and the Kings, people lighted earthen lamps in the town. This happened on the auspicious day of Diwali.

The foundation stone (neev) of the Golden Temple was also laid on the occasion of Diwali, in 1577.

Significance of Diwali Pooja:

As per the belief, on that day, Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) came up from the ocean. When the devas seek the Amrita from the ocean and took rebirth, at that time many divine objects came up, the primary from all of them was Goddess Lakshmi. Also, on this very night(Kartik), Lord Vishnu married her.  On this holy occasion, many lamps were illuminated on the place. Therefore, each year, the birth, as well as the marriage celebration of Goddess Lakshmi, is celebrated on Diwali.

Therefore, people believe that she comes to the house and blesses it with lots of happiness and wealth.
Hope you are also ready to celebrate your grand festival with lots of fun and enjoyment. Wish you a very Happy Diwali.

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