Year after year, we have heard and read several stories about Diwali, the festival of lights. Every single year, new revelations gets added to the cart of surprises associated with the festival that does not have a specific regional rooting and which is celebrated across the country and nations too.
Here are some of the most surprising facts about Diwali you probably did not know or have forgotten over a period.
RELIGION NO BAR: Diwali is considered a Hindu festivity, but in reality the occasion is celebrated by several other religions as well and numerous folk religions.
Jainism and Sikhism are two of the prominent religion who attached their own significance to it. According to India’s sixth largest religion, Jainism, Lord Mahavira, the last of the 24 Thirthankaras attained ‘Nirvana’ on this particular day.
At the age of 72, one day seated in the lotus position before his disciples Lord Mahavira entered into deep meditation and withdrew from his physical body.
When those assembled realised what had happened, they said, “The light has gone from this world. Let us now light clay lamps.” Several clay lamps were lit, to soulfully observe the passing of their beloved Guru. Many believe that this is one of the origins of Diwali Festival.
Similarly, in Sikhism the Bandi Chhor Divas (Day of Liberation) which coincides with the day of Diwali is celebrated in a similar manner. According to Sikh history, on this day their teacher Sixth Guru Hargobind Ji was set-free from the captivity of Mughal Emperor Jahangir in Gwalior along with other Hindu Kings.
Token similar to clay lamps, the Sikh devotees light candles as they pay their respects at the Golden Temple in Amritsar every year on Bandi Chhor Divas.
RETURN OF LORD RAMA: Most common and popular belief behind celebrating Diwali is Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Exactly 21 days after Lord Rama killed Ravana (Dusshera), comes the New Moon or Kartika Amavasya on which day lamps were lit all across the Kingdom celebrating his return to the throne.
TRIUMPH OF GOOD OVER EVIL: In most of the Southern parts of India, Diwali is marked as an occasion to celebrate the victory of good over evil. According to mythology, Lord Krishna killed the demon Narkasura thus bringing in much needed peace to humanity.
During his last moments, Narkasura repented for his deeds and requested Mother Earth for one last wish. He wished that his death be celebrated with lights and colours all across, which was granted to him.
Hence on Narak Chaturdashi huge effigies of Narkasura are burnt on the wee hours of Diwali, after which people go and have a traditional bath followed by eating Diwali sweets.
In Goa, before eating sweets a bitter fruit (popularly known as Kareet) is quashed under the left toe and tasted. A symbol for bitter turning into sweet, just like the victory of good over evil.
STRANGE BUT TRUE: Playing cards and gambling with money in the evening is also a part of celebrations during Diwali in the Northern parts of India.
Associated with fun, the family’s elders and youngsters all get together to take part in this mode of celebration. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati played dice with Lord Shiva and she declared that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the year.
SWEET ENDING: One just cannot think of Diwali without sweets, but like every other rituals the exchange of sweets among friends too has a mythological touch.
During the time of Samudra Manthan (Churning of Ocean), in search of Amrut, many valuable things came up from the ocean. One among them was Goddess Lakshmi, daughter of the ocean. On the very same day Lord Vishnu married Goddess Lakshmi, which was marked as an auspicious day for the marriage of Gods.
Diwali is celebrated as their wedding anniversary and every year we continue to distribute sweets among near and dear ones during Lakshmi Puja. Exchange of sweets is also a mythological expression celebrating the victory of Lord Vishnu over the Asura King Mahabali.
PEACE FACTOR: During Diwali, the man-made boundaries and borders, seem to vanish for a day even between two nations who are at loggerheads for ages. Soldiers from both the sides of India and Pakistan lay aside their differences and exchange greetings to one another across the border by distributing sweets.
GLOBAL TOUCH: Today, with large number of Indians spread all across the globe, Diwali is elebrated with much fervour in various parts of Canada, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Fiji, Thailand and Mauritius.