ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

History and Significance of Diwali

Updated on August 31, 2012

There is no dearth of festivals when it comes to India. India is a land of festivals, and you may find a festival almost every day, starting from Makar Sankranti and Ugadi to Ramadan and Christmas. Every festival has its own significance lying somewhere in history or mythology. Similarly, Diwali, the festival of lights too has its own significance. Since it is Diwali time, this article tries to focus on the significance and history of Diwali.

The festival of Diwali spans over 3 days. This is the festival filled with lights and burning of firecrackers. This festival is one of the festivals which signify the triumph of good over evil. It also marks the arrival of New Year for certain communities. As such there are a lot of community festivities and sharing of sweets. Let us see in detail what the significance of this festival is.


History of Diwali

Diwali or Deepavali (deepa signifies lamps and deepavali means row of lamps) spans over three to five days depending on the tradition followed by the particular community. There are distinct ways of celebrating this festival in the Northern and Southern parts of India. As such, the significance also varies. In fact, if you look at different communities celebrating this festival, each has their own significance and traditions. But, here we will discuss the commonly accepted traditions.

Generally, according to the commonly accepted mythology across Northern India, the first day of the festival is known as “Dhanteras”. This day signifies the birth of goddess Lakshmi from the deepest part of a bottomless ocean. Since goddess Lakshmi is considered to be the bringer of luck and good fortune, people who celebrate this festival make preparations by decorating their house and doors to welcome her. Another popular legend behind this day is the “samudra manthana” or the churning of the ocean by devas (gods) and danavas (demons) in order to obtain the life nectar or amrita. During this churning, several things emerged out of the deepest parts of the ocean. At the same time, Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods (and an incarnation of lord Vishnu) emerged from the ocean carrying a pot of elixir on this day.

The second day is called “Naraka Chaturdashi” (Chaturdashi in Sanskrit means fourteenth day) to mark the death of demon Narakasura at the hands of lord Krishna (an important avatar of god Vishnu) and his wife Satyabhama. According to some of the sacred texts of India (puranas), Narakasura was a demon king who ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram with tyranny. He was the son of Bhudevi (the earth goddess) and through hard penance, acquired a boon of immense power from Lord Brahma. He also had a boon that he couldn’t be killed by anyone else apart from his own mother Bhudevi. Hence, as the other devas (gods) approached lord Krishna to save them from Narakasura’s tyranny, Krishna asked his wife Satyabhama (an incarnation of the earth goddess) to help him fight Narakasura. During this battle Satyabhama killed Narakasura with her bow and arrow. The key significance one draws from this story is that, parents should not hesitate to punish their children if the child chooses to take a wrong path.


The third and final day called the Amavasya (new moon or lunar eclipse) signifies the worship of goddess Lakshmi, in her most benevolent mood fulfilling her devotees’ wishes. Another popularly agreed mythology is that the arrival of the demon king Bali amidst celebrations. The story is quite interesting in that, though Bali was born a demon (in a demon family), he was considered an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and a very benevolent emperor. His growing power however put the other gods at unease. They requested Lord Vishnu to do something to stop Bali’s growing power. Accordingly, Lord Vishnu took the form of Vamana (a dwarf) and in a battle of wits, vanquished Bali and pushed him down to patala (the underworld). He however was impressed by the good nature and benevolence of Bali and granted him a kingdom to rule in the underworld. He also granted him a boon that every year, Bali could come back to the surface and could visit his beloved subjects for one day.

Hence, Bali’s arrival is marked with celebrations by burning fireworks and lighting of lamps. In the southern part of India, the traditions vary slightly. The first day of the Diwali festival starts with Naraka Chaturdashi (with the same significance). The second day is amavasya, where there are minor festivities and the third day marks the arrival of Bali, and hence is called Bali Padyami (Padyami means first day).

As seen above, the significance and history of Diwali or Deepavali varies across regions and communities. With all these variations, there is one thing which still remains common across all regions and communities – the spirit of light and celebration which brings people of different communities and religions together without the geographical and racial barrier.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • tigerbaby777 profile image

      tigerbaby777 

      7 years ago from Nampa

      Very well written and very interesting!

    • karthikkash profile imageAUTHOR

      Karthik Kashyap 

      7 years ago from India

      thanks Sharath :)

    • profile image

      Sharath 

      7 years ago

      Super! I like it. Though we celebrate this festival, did not know the significance of those days in detail... :-)

    • karthikkash profile imageAUTHOR

      Karthik Kashyap 

      7 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot :) Nice knowing that you liked it. I will be updating few more like that.

      - Cheers

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 

      7 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for sharing this hub about Diwali. I enjoyed reading about it and learning about a festival with which I am unfamiliar.

    • karthikkash profile imageAUTHOR

      Karthik Kashyap 

      7 years ago from India

      thank you so much ripplemaker :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      To celebrate the spirit of light...I like that a lot! Yes, it is indeed something similar that we can all share which can cross boundaries of race, religion and culture.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Do join and participate in the celebration of writers and their hubs right this way: https://redelf.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/The-Ad...

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)