By Jivisha Aggarwal, the Pazzfeed editor, and Aryaman Bhatia, the Science and tech editor, The Pawprint
Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated on the 15th day of the Kartik month of the Hindu calendar as a celebration of light over darkness, good over evil. There are various origin stories based on the region but the most commonly known story involves Lord Rama, his wife Sita, his brother Lakshmana, Hanuman- a loyal devotee of Rama and the demon king Ravana. Lord Rama to keep his father’s word agrees to 14 years in exile.
He says he will go alone but Sita and Lakshmana refuse to let him go without them. In the forest, they encounter Ravana’s sister Shrupnakha who is upset at being rebuffed by Rama and goes to her brother who decides to kidnap Sita, hoping to make her his wife but she refuses over and over again. Rama, distraught at having lost his wife, goes out in search of her where he meets Hanuman who helps him in his search.
On finally finding Sita Rama’s army goes up against Ravana’s in an epic battle ultimately leading to Ravana’s death and his brother Vibhishana, who is on Rama’s side to take over. They can now finally return home where Rama can take his rightful place as king. The night they return is one of a new moon so the locals light diyas (oil lamps) to illuminate their path.
Diwali commemorates the birth of Goddess Lakshmi from Samudra Manthan, the churning of the cosmic ocean of milk by gods and demons. On the night of Diwali, Lakshmi picked Vishnu as her spouse, and the two were united in holy matrimony. Moreover, Diwali symbolizes the victory of Rama against the evil of Ravana, showing the ideals of perseverance, bravery, hope, and ambition.
The festival also allows for people to get back in touch with their inner child as people can light firecrackers that light up the sky every year in the celebration of Rama’s victory. Multiple cultures also create effigies of Ravana to shoot with an arrow lit on fire, this is the same way that Rama defeated him all those years ago.
Other activities include lighting a “Diya” with your family to symbolize that family will always stand together in the face of evil, in addition to that there is also lighting firecrackers as previously stated they light up the sky to illuminate a better future.
Multiple families come together every year to celebrate this monumental event, and families come together to feast and celebrate. This is a time for friends and foes to leave aside their differences to commemorate this epic victory of perseverance, bravery, hope, friendship, and loyalty.