The Diwali date usually falls between mid-October to mid-November. This is the time when the seasons change and bring with it new opportunities and a fresh start for everybody. Traditionaly, Diwali or Deepavali is celebrated by the lightening of lamps and bursting firecrackers to ward off evil (of any kind). People pray for a successful and peaceful year and distribute sweets among their family and friends. They pray that the sweetness spreads to the lives of their near and dear ones.
Here is a brief overview of the legends or stories behind Diwali celebration in different religions.
Sikhism: One of the stores of the beginning of Diwali celebrations among the Sikhs dates back to the time when the foundation stone for the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid down.
Historically Diwali has been celebrated among the Sikhs for hundreds of years but the significance increased with this day marking the release of their revered Guru Hargobind form prison. He was help prisoner by the Mogul emperor in the Gwalior fort. He also facilitated the release of 52 Hindu Kings. Guru Hargobind’s first stop after release was at the Golden Temple. To comemorate his arrival and the celebration of his release, the temple was lit with lights and candles whilst sweets were distributed.
Hinduism: For the Hindu’s there are many stories, which are linked to the Diwali celebrations in different regions. The most popular one is the celebration of Lord Rama’s homecoming form a 14-year exile. Lord Rama was the son of the King of Ayodhaya. He was exhiled for 14-years by his stepmother. During his exile, he beheaded the 10-headed demon Ravan. Lord Rama is believed to be the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
With his return, Lord Rama brought wealth, prosperity, and happiness to his kingdom and people lived happily ever after. Diwali is celebrated with lights, sweets, new clothes, jewellery and prayers for peace and wealth.
Jainism: Jains celebrate Diwali as a mark of respect for Lord Mahavira. It is this day that Lord Mahavira left his body and attained the highest spiritual level that is the nirvana. Jains maintain a three day fast and recite mantras and believe that Lord Mahavira is guiding them on the path of moksha. They also listen to Uttaradhyavan Sutra, the last preachings by Lord Mahavira.
This day is also auspicious for opening new business accounts with the blessings of Lord Mahavira.
Buddhism: Buddhists celebrate Diwali in their own quite way. Diwali is also known as Ashoka Vijaydashmi. For them this is the day
when emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism and decided to dedicate his life to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha. This festival is celebrated in monasteries and temples all over the world. Buddhists celebrate Diwali by chanting mantras and decorating their place of worship and homes with lights. The lights signify the enlightenment of Lord Ashoka.