Deepavali-The festival of lights

Deepavali, Diwali

Deepavali which is celebrated in the last quarter of the calendar is a festival marking the victory of the good or the evil. Deepavali means the "row of lights", and it brings along with it glowing happiness and luster all around. Houses are beautifully decorated with earthenware lamps and there is fireworks and bursting of crackers at every home.

The festival of Deepavali is unique to India. It signifies the advent of joy and happiness. Every year, people look forward to this occasion which is celebrated for two days. The children await this festival to rejoice with fire crackers, wear new clothes and savor delicious eats. The adults take this occasion as an ideal time for gatherings, exchange of gifts and, of course, invest in gold, silver and new acquisitions for their homes.This is also the time when houses are given a fresh coat of paint.

Background for Deepavali

The celebration of Deepavali is celebrated in different parts of India for different reasons. The most popular account involves Narakasura, a monster who ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram. His arrogance and anarchic temperament was evident in his crooked behavior. He was a trouble-maker to the gods and the pious sages and would disturb their penance or create havoc during the rituals. To prove his power, Narakasura usurped some territory belonging to Aditi, the king of Suraloka and a relative of Satyabhama, Lord Krishna's wife. Not only this, he carried away 16000 women and imprisoned them in his palace. Vexed with this harassment, the gods led by Indra approached Lord Krishna and pleaded with him to protect them from the demon "Narakasura".

On coming to know about this, Satyabhama was enraged by Narakasura's malevolence towards women, and she appealed to Krishna to give her the golden chance to destroy Narakasura. The legend also says that Narakasura was given a curse that he would be killed by a woman. Krishna granted Satyabhama a boon to fight with Narakasura.

With Krishna as the charioteer, Satyabhama entered the battle field. During the war, Krishna swooned for a while, a preordained divinely act adopted to empower Satyabhama to kill the demon, Narakasura. After Narakasura was beheaded, the imprisoned women were released.

The killing of Narakasura was a victory of good over evil. It is interesting to note that Bhudevi, mother of the slain Narakasura, declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. Since then, Deepavali is being celebrated by people every year with joyous celebrations with lot of fun and frolic, and fire works.

Return of Lord Ram after defeating Ravana

Some people believe that, Deepavali was the day when Lord Ram returned to his kingdom after 14 years of exile and the defeat of Ravana in Ramayana. The people of Lord Ram's kingdom gave a ceremonious welcome to their victorious king by decorating the houses and streets with lights.