Divali is the Hindu festival which is celebrated in India and all across the world on Amaavasya, that is, the fifteenth night of the dark fortnight of the month of Kaartik (October/November).
The word "Divali" is a variation of the Sanskrit word Deepavali, Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. Divali is also called the Festival of Lights. Traditionally, it is marked by the lighting of deeyas which are made from clay and filled with oil or ghee. Devotees will also clean their homes and surroundings wear new clothes and give charity to the needy.
The Festival of Lights is celebrated by Hindu’s all over the world and is a great occasion for using fireworks. The displays generally focus less on noise and more on filling the night sky with brilliant light and beautiful colours.
Several legends surround the origins of this festival. Here we will mention some of the most popular ones.
The Story of Rama and Sita
One of the most common stories about Divali is the return of Lord Rama and his wife Sita to Ayodhya after their fourteen year exile. This story is told in the Ramayana - the Story of Rama. It tells the tale of how Lord Rama, with help from the monkey warrior, Hanuman, slew the evil king Ravana of Lanka and rescued his wife Sita who had been captured.
After this victory, the entire city of Ayodhya was adorned with flowers and garlands in celebration of Lord Ram’s return. The surroundings were made very clean and were beautifully fragranced. Throughout Ayodhya devotees were fasting, anxiously awaiting the return of Lord Ram. Ram arrived at Ayodhya with Sita and was welcomed with joyous celebrations and the people lit hundreds of rows of clay lamps to greet him. This was to signify the victory of good over evil and the coming of God-consciousness into the life of the devotee. The day he destroyed Ravana was called Dussehra, and the day on which he returned to Ayodhya was called Divali.
The Defeat of Narakaasura by Lord Krishna
Another tale contributing to the evolution of Divali is the story of how Lord Krishna vanquished the evil king Narakaasura on the day of Divali. The wicked Narakaasura used to kidnap beautiful young women and keep them prisoner. It is said that this hardship fell on 16,000 celestial princesses. Eventually, their cries for rescue reached the ears of Lord Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna and destroyed the evil king. A somewhat different version of this same story states that Lord Krishna destroyed Narakaasura with the help of his consort Satyabhaama.
The Story of King Mahabali and the Dwarf
Some texts suggest that King Mahabali - sometimes called King Bali - is also remembered throughout the festival of Divali. He is considered either a demon king or a compassionate ruler depending on which account of this legend one reads. All agree however that he was a powerful and ambitious ruler who controlled heaven and earth and it is said he never refused a request. Some of the Gods beseeched Vishnu to control King Mahabali’s power. Vishnu came to earth in the form of a dwarf dressed as a priest.
The dwarf approached King Mahabali and asked if he would give him the space that he could cover with three strides. King Mahabali would never refuse a request and agreed to grant the dwarf what he asked, at this point the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered all the Earth, all the Skies and the whole Universe! King Mahabali was banished to the underworld. Lord Vishnu however, granted him one wish because of his magnanimous nature. Thus, Mahabali is allowed to visit the earth for one day a year (Divali) and his subjects light deeyas and take part in joyous celebrations. Interestingly, this legend is also cited as the origin of the Onam Festival that is celebrated in August by the people of Kerala, South India.
The Goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi is one of the most important figures of Hindu mythology associated with the festival of Divali. Legend has it that Lakshmi emerged from the ocean of milk after the churning by the Devas (gods) and the Daanavas (demons). This event is a cause of incredible joy because Lakshmi is considered to be the embodiment of loveliness, grace and prosperity. The Puranas are a series of Hindu religious texts steeped in allegory. Highlighted in The Puranas is another event associating Lakshmi with Divali. According to these texts, Divali represents the day of marriage between Lord Vishnu (the Preserver) and Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity). The matrimony of Lord Vishnu to Goddess Lakshmi denotes the link between preservation and wealth.
No matter which story they tell, Divali is a very special occasion for Hindus throughout the world. The many ceremonies signify one's journey and the behaviours that should be cultivated for self-enlightenment. The aim of Divali celebrations is to move man on the spiritual path and ultimately achieve illumination by becoming one with God. As they light the lamps in their houses, gardens and streets, those celebrating Divali are reminded to light the lamps of wisdom, goodness and God-consciousness in themselves. This is the path on which they can attain the “Light of Lights” - God.
Today Divali is as popular as ever and is celebrated all around the globe. Fireworks are being seen more and more in Divali celebrations and the festival of light is a time to illuminate the sky. Here at Epic Fireworks we have been supplying fireworks for the Festival of Divali for years, and hope to do so for many years to come.