History of Diwali Festival

History of Diwali


Diwali or Deepavali is the festival of lights, is the major Indian festival. It is the festival celebrated for the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, cognizance over ignorance. It is celebrated in the months of October or November on a new moon day. Diwali festival is having a vivacious history. It has been celebrated for many years, history of this festival is as old as the history of India. Mythical tales and reasons behind the celebration of Diwali festival are very fascinating. People in different regions believe in different historical events to be a cause behind Diwali festival. Here are the vibrant stories of Diwali festival.

Returning of Lord Rama to Ayodhya:

One of the most known tales behind Diwali celebrations is in the sacred book ‘Ramayana’. According to it, Dasharath, the King of Ayodhya has ordered his son Prince Rama to leave the kingdom and live in the forest for fourteen years. So Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana went into exile. In the forest, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the King of Lanka and took her away to his kingdom. To rescue Sita, he fought against Ravana and killed him. Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years. To give a warm welcome to their beloved Prince Rama, people of Ayodhya lit up their houses with diyas(earthen lamps), decorated the entire kingdom and burst crackers.

Homecoming of Pandavas:

There is another interesting tale behind Diwali history in ‘Mahabharata’. Pandavas, the five royal brothers namely Yudhishthir, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadev were defeated in a game of dice by their brothers Kauravas. Pandavas were sentenced to get expelled from the kingdom and live in the forest for thirteen years. After completion of thirteen years, they returned to their kingdom Hastinapura on ‘karthika Amavasya'(new moon day). Pandavas mother and their wife Draupadi were kind, gentle, honest and caring in their ways. To celebrate the occasion of their homecoming and to welcome them, people of Hastinapura lit up their kingdom with earthen lamps. This tradition is kept alive through Diwali, which is held in the remembrance of Pandavas return.

 Lord Krishna killed demon Narakasur:

The most well known mythological story in ‘Bhagavatha Purana’ is the victory of Lord Krishna over demon Naraksur. Narakasur attacked Lord Indra and defeated him. He snatched the earnings of the ruler Suraloka, Goddess Aditi who is the relative of Lord Krishna’s wife Satyabhama.  Narkasura conquered both heavens and earth and imprisoned 16,000 daughters of Gods and Saints. Lord Krishna with the help of his wife Satyabhama killed the demon Narakasura on the day before Diwali and rescued 16,000 women from his palace and restored Goddess Aditi’s earnings. The death of the demon was a great relief for the people of heaven and earth. This occasion is celebrated splendidly with tradition and joy.

Birthday of Goddess Lakshmi:

It is believed that on the new moon day(Amavasya) in Karthik month, the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi was incarnated from the ocean. The Puran tell us that very long ago both God and Demons were mortal. But they want to be immortal. To seek amrith(the nectar of immortality) they churned the ocean. While churning many divine things came up. Among them the daughter of milky ocean, Goddess Lakshmi arose. This magnificent event is celebrated every year by Hindus. Goddess Lakshmi was married to Lord Vishnu on Diwali.

Lord Vishnu defeated King Bali:

King Mahabali or Bali, the cruel and powerful demon was ruling the earth. Once he got a boon from God Brahma which made him unconquerable. Bali was cruel to gods. Even gods were failed in defeating him. All the gods went to Lord Vishnu and asked him to make a plan to stop Bali. Lord Vishnu found a way to defeat Bali, he took the avatar of short Brahmin(dwarf) on Karthik day. He approached King Mahabali for charity, the large hearted King tried to help dwarf and got tricked by him. Bali has to give upon his kingship and wealth. The defeat of demon by Lord Vishnu is celebrated as Diwali.

Birth of Goddess Kali:

Gods after losing the battle with devils, to save the heaven and earth from the rising cruelty of demons, Goddess Kali as born from the forehead of Goddess Durga.  After killing all the demons, Kali lost her control. She started killing all those who come in her way. It was stopped only when Lord Shiva intervened. It comes to an end when she steps on Lord Shiva and stops in repentance. This memorable event has been celebrated as Kali Pooja in some parts of the country majorly in West Bengal. Kali Pooja’s rituals are very plain and simple. The pooja starts in the midnight and lasts till morning. Pure Wine is offered as bhog to Goddess Kali. Kali pooja pandals are placed all around the state.

History of Diwali in Sikh community:

The importance of Diwali in Sikh community was increased when their Guru Amar Das laid down the foundation stone for the famous ‘Golden Temple’ in Amritsar on the day of Diwali. The significance was increased even more during the period of last Sikh Guru Hargobind. Hargobind Ji along with 52 princes of various states was imprisoned by the Mughal dynasty Emperor Jahangir.  Hargobind Ji demanded his release on Diwali and Emperor agreed to it. He also demanded the freedom of 52 princes along with his freedom. On that, Jahangir put a condition that prisoners who could hold onto Guru’s cloak could be freed. Hargobind designed a special cloak with 52 strings. On Diwali Hargobind Ji along with 52 princes were released. Diwali is celebrated as the release of Guru Hargobind every year. Diwali celebrations at Golden Temple are eye feasting.

History of Diwali in Jain community:

The Diwali festival is having a special importance in Jain community. The founder of Jain community, the famous Jain prophet Bhagvaan Mahaveer attained his ‘Nirvana’ on this day. According to Kalpasutra, many gods were present there illuminating all the darkness. The following night was too black without the light of Gods or the moon. So the Jainism people celebrate the Diwali festival in the remembrance of Lord Mahavira.  Swetambar Jains observe fasting for two days. Jains visit Pavapur on this special day to offer prayers. The most important principle followed by Jains is non-violence, so they avoid bursting of firecrackers. Jains decorate and lit up their houses and shops. The light symbolizes the knowledge.

King Vikramaditya’s coronation:

Indian legendary King Vikramaditya, also known as Chandragupta II was the emperor of Gupta dynasty. King Vikramaditya renowned for his valour, wisdom, extremely liberal and generous of spirit was coronated on the day of Diwali. He was coronated after his victory over Sakas in 56 BC. It is grandly every year in the memory of his victory and coronation.

Enlightenment of Swami Dayananda Saraswati:

One of the greatest crusaders of Hinduism got his Nirvana on the auspicious day of Diwali. He became Maharshi Dayananda which means great saint Dayananda. Arya Samaj (society of nobles) was founded by Maharshi Dayananda in 1875. It is Hindu reform movement to sanctify Hinduism of the evils it became related with at that era. In the remembrance of this great Reformation Diwali is celebrated annually.

Harvest Festival:

Diwali comes in the time of Kharif crop season. Kharif is the time when rice crop is ready for harvesting. Rice cultivation will give its fruit. The significance of rice harvest adds a new meaning to Diwali celebrations in ago economic society, India. It is one of the reasons behind the celebrations of Diwali.


 To conclude, a celebration of Diwali is having many reasons behind it. Almost every regions of India is having its own significance to celebrate the festival. However, all of these reasons matter to the festival itself. Whatever be the cause behind Diwali festival, it is doubtlessly a national festival of India. People of different religions around the world will not get together, but also get meaning, purpose and hope to their lives through rituals and celebrations. Hope that you will be able to experience the great joy of Diwali celebrations by celebrating it spiritually correct way. May the festival of lights Enlight your life and bring glory, prosperity, peace, and health. HAPPY DIWALI 2017!!!