Happy Diwali! Do you know why it is called the festival of lights?

Diwali isn't just about food, fireworks and festivities. Learn more about the mythology that revolves around the festival of lights

FP Staff October 27, 2016 20:02:01 IST
We all must be aware of the origins of the Diwali festivities. Diwali or Deepawali is celebrated to mark Lord Ram's victory over Ravan. But what is the lore behind this victory of light over darkness? Read this visual story to find out. Artwork by Prerna Mittra and Raj.
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We all must be aware of the origins of the Diwali festivities. Diwali or Deepawali is celebrated to mark Lord Ram's victory over Ravan. But what is the lore behind this victory of light over darkness? Read this visual story to find out. Artwork by Prerna Mittra and Raj.
Long long ago in Kosala, there lived a king called Dasharath with his three queens- Kaushalya, Kaikeyi, Sumitra- and four children- Ram, Bharat, Lakshman & Shatrughan.
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Long long ago in Kosala, there lived a king called Dasharath with his three queens- Kaushalya, Kaikeyi, Sumitra- and four children- Ram, Bharat, Lakshman & Shatrughan.
In another kingdom called Mithila, lived King Janak & Queen Sunayana. They found a baby in a furrow in a ploughed field. They adopted her and named her Sita.
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In another kingdom called Mithila, lived King Janak & Queen Sunayana. They found a baby in a furrow in a ploughed field. They adopted her and named her Sita.
When Ram and Lakshman came of age, King Dashrath sent them to Sage Vishwamitra, to learn kingship and warfare.
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When Ram and Lakshman came of age, King Dashrath sent them to Sage Vishwamitra, to learn kingship and warfare.
As the years went by, Sita attained marriageable age. Kings were invited to a ‘swayamvar’, or a competition, whether they had to lift Lord Shiva’s bow and string it, in order to marry Sita. But none of them were strong enough.
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As the years went by, Sita attained marriageable age. Kings were invited to a ‘swayamvar’, or a competition, whether they had to lift Lord Shiva’s bow and string it, in order to marry Sita. But none of them were strong enough.
But Ram not only lifted the bow effortlessly, he also broke it while trying to string it. Ram won Sita’s hand in marriage.
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But Ram not only lifted the bow effortlessly, he also broke it while trying to string it. Ram won Sita’s hand in marriage.
Soon after, Dashrath decided to name Ram as his successor. But Queen Kaikeyi, influenced by her evil maidservant Manthara, demanded that Ram be exiled for 14 years, which the king had to agree to.
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Soon after, Dashrath decided to name Ram as his successor. But Queen Kaikeyi, influenced by her evil maidservant Manthara, demanded that Ram be exiled for 14 years, which the king had to agree to.
That’s because she wanted her own son, Bharat, to rule instead. But Bharat refused to take Rama's place. He placed his elder brother’s sandals on the royal throne as symbols of Rama’s authority.
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That’s because she wanted her own son, Bharat, to rule instead. But Bharat refused to take Rama's place. He placed his elder brother’s sandals on the royal throne as symbols of Rama’s authority.
Ram journeyed with Sita and devoted brother Lakshman. And they reached Panchavati forest. There lurked Surpanakha- the sister of Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
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Ram journeyed with Sita and devoted brother Lakshman. And they reached Panchavati forest. There lurked Surpanakha- the sister of Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
Charmed by the handsome brothers, she tried to kill Sita. But Lakshman cut off her nose and ears.
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Charmed by the handsome brothers, she tried to kill Sita. But Lakshman cut off her nose and ears.
When the news reached Ravana, he was furious! To teach them a lesson, he decided to kidnap Sita. Ravana took the help of his friend, the demon Maricha.
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When the news reached Ravana, he was furious! To teach them a lesson, he decided to kidnap Sita. Ravana took the help of his friend, the demon Maricha.
Maricha turned himself into a golden deer and roamed about Panchavati to lure Sita. She asked Ram to bring her the animal.
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Maricha turned himself into a golden deer and roamed about Panchavati to lure Sita. She asked Ram to bring her the animal.
While Lakshman was guarding Sita, he heard Ram’s cries from within the forest. But before setting out, he drew a magical boundary around the cottage to protect Sita.
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While Lakshman was guarding Sita, he heard Ram’s cries from within the forest. But before setting out, he drew a magical boundary around the cottage to protect Sita.
With Sita alone, Ravana could now carry out with his wicked plan. He disguised himself as a sage and headed towards the cottage.
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With Sita alone, Ravana could now carry out with his wicked plan. He disguised himself as a sage and headed towards the cottage.
He begged for alms from Sita, who took kindly to the sage.
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He begged for alms from Sita, who took kindly to the sage.
But as soon as she stepped out of the magical boundary...
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But as soon as she stepped out of the magical boundary...
Ravan changed back to the demon king. He dragged her into his flying chariot and took flight.
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Ravan changed back to the demon king. He dragged her into his flying chariot and took flight.
Sita’s cries and screams were heard by the vulture God Jatayu, who tried to fight off Ravan
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Sita’s cries and screams were heard by the vulture God Jatayu, who tried to fight off Ravan
But alas, Jatayu couldn’t stop him and was fatally wounded.
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But alas, Jatayu couldn’t stop him and was fatally wounded.
While looking for Sita, Ram and Lakshman met the monkey God Hanuman. Hanuman sought the brothers’ help in restoring his king, Sugriv, as the ruler of Kishkinda
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While looking for Sita, Ram and Lakshman met the monkey God Hanuman. Hanuman sought the brothers’ help in restoring his king, Sugriv, as the ruler of Kishkinda
After becoming king, Sugriv sent out his monkey army in all four directions to search for Sita. But only the party that marched south, under Angad, returned with news.
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After becoming king, Sugriv sent out his monkey army in all four directions to search for Sita. But only the party that marched south, under Angad, returned with news.
Sita was in Lanka! But who would take Ram’s message to her? The mighty Hanuman volunteered, and he assumed a gigantic form.
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Sita was in Lanka! But who would take Ram’s message to her? The mighty Hanuman volunteered, and he assumed a gigantic form.
He flew over the ocean and reached Ashok Vatika, where Sita had been held captive.
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He flew over the ocean and reached Ashok Vatika, where Sita had been held captive.
He gave her Ram’s ring to comfort her.
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He gave her Ram’s ring to comfort her.
He also wreaked havoc in Lanka, but was captured and produced before the demon king.
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He also wreaked havoc in Lanka, but was captured and produced before the demon king.
An angry Ravana decided to teach him a lesson. He set Hanuman’s tail on fire! But the monkey God managed to leap from one roof to another, setting the entire kingdom ablaze!
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An angry Ravana decided to teach him a lesson. He set Hanuman’s tail on fire! But the monkey God managed to leap from one roof to another, setting the entire kingdom ablaze!
Meanwhile, Ram had nearly reached Lanka. Only the ocean lay in front of him. The monkey army laid pebbles and stones to construct a bridge.
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Meanwhile, Ram had nearly reached Lanka. Only the ocean lay in front of him. The monkey army laid pebbles and stones to construct a bridge.
Ram crossed over. Ravana’s brother Vibhishan offered to help Ram’s army.
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Ram crossed over. Ravana’s brother Vibhishan offered to help Ram’s army.
At one time during the battle, Lakshman got seriously injured and lay dying.
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At one time during the battle, Lakshman got seriously injured and lay dying.
Only a rare herb called Sanjivani could save him, which Hanuman set off to get. The rare herb was only to be found on the Kailash mountain peak. But unable to identify the herb, he lifted an entire mountain and brought it back. Lakshman was saved.
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Only a rare herb called Sanjivani could save him, which Hanuman set off to get. The rare herb was only to be found on the Kailash mountain peak. But unable to identify the herb, he lifted an entire mountain and brought it back. Lakshman was saved.
Good finally triumphed when Ram killed Ravana and made Vibhishan the king of Lanka.
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Good finally triumphed when Ram killed Ravana and made Vibhishan the king of Lanka.
Ram and Sita were reunited.
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Ram and Sita were reunited.
The three returned home, to Ayodhya. And Ram was made King.
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The three returned home, to Ayodhya. And Ram was made King.
The entire kingdom celebrated their homecoming by lighting earthen lamps and bursting crackers! Every year, this day is celebrated as Diwali — the festival of lights!
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The entire kingdom celebrated their homecoming by lighting earthen lamps and bursting crackers! Every year, this day is celebrated as Diwali — the festival of lights!
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