The Origin of Diwali
Although Diwali is a major festival for Hindus in most of the parts of India, the origin of Diwali is not in Hinduism.
According to Hindus, when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 years, that was no moon night. To welcome Lord Ram, the people of Ayodhya lighted small lamps in and around there homes. The city of Ayodhya was brightened at that no moon night. Then the people of Ayodhya started to light small lamps every year on that no moon night, and it is the day of Diwali.
But this story is just a myth, as you will not see it anywhere in the Valmiki Ramayan, the oldest version of Ramayan in Vedic tradition. Further the Ramayan itself is an epic and not a history book. This epic is based on Buddhist Jatak story Dasharat Jatak.
There is a big flaw in the Vedic story of origin of Diwali. No person from vedic fold will return to home, that too after so many years on no moon night, as no moon night is considered as an inauspicious night. But here we see that Lord Ram returns on that inauspicious night.
Jain Origin of Diwali
In fact, the origin of Diwali is in a historical incident. This incident is recorded in Kalpasutra, an ancient Jain text. According to it, when Vardhaman Mahaveer, the last ford maker of Jainism got Nirvan at Pava in Bihar, the 9 Lichchhavi and 9 Mall kings came there to celebrate the event and the funeral. That was a no moon day. The kings decided to celebrate this day every year by lighting lamps. Thus, this became a festival of light, Diwali or Deepavali.
Here, it is important to think on the other two days adjoining to Diwali, which are equally important for Vedics. On previous day, it is Narak Chaturdashi. On that day, Narakasur, a demon was killed by Lord Krishna, while on Bali Pratipada, the next day of Diwali, the King Bali was killed by Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu. Now both the stories are not historical, but just mythical which are found in Puranas.
We know that Bali and Narakasur, both were non-vedics and great enemies of Vedics. So was Vardhaman Mahavir. When Jainism declined, the Vedics modified and rearranged the festival of Diwali, by connecting Narak Chaturdashi and Balipratipada to it, and by removing the fact that the no moon day was niravan day of Vardhaman Mahaveer.
For Jains, Diwali is one of the most important festival and they celebrate no moon day as Mahaveer Nirvan. For them Narak Chaturdashi and Balipratipada are not important. On the other hand, there is no Diwali in Buddhist tradition.
Diwali is equally important for all Jains, anywhere in India and overseas. So all Jains celebrate Diwali. But Diwali is not equally important for all Hindus. This festival is important for Hindus of Maharashtra and few other states. But in all other states, other festivals like dashehara etc. are more important. And the states where Diwali is important were strong holds of Jainism.
All these facts show that the origin of Diwali is in Nirvan of Vardhaman Mahaveer.
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