Happy Diwali Everyone!
Diwali is a festival where people from all age groups participate. They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen ‘diyas’ (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting fireworks and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valour and fame. But for those who don’t know, there’s a deeper story behind Diwali know as Ramayana.
So make a chai, take a seat, and let Uncle Ash tell you the story of Diwali.
Years ago, in the city of Ayodhaya, there was a king named Dashrath who had 3 wives. The king was childless and so performed a fire sacrifice known as putra-kameshti yagya, this lead to the birth of his 4 Princes, the eldest of whom was Rama. These princes held the essence of the God Vishnu, who had vowed to defeat the demon king Ravana plaguing that time.
As the princes grew, one of the king’s wives was jealous of the king’s affection for Rama. She asked the king to exile Rama so her son, Bharath, could become king. The king once promised the wife to fulfil any wish of hers, and thus he was forced to exile Rama to the forest for 14 years, with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman. However, plagued by his grief, the king had passed away soon after. Bharath had learned of his mother’s wicked plans and sought Rama to ask him to return. Rama however, not wanting to betray his father’s final orders, decided to remain in exile. Bharath took the shoes of Rama and placed them on the throne whilst he ruled as Rama’s proxy.
Years into their exile, the demoness Surpanakha came across the princes, and had fallen for their looks. She attempted to entice the pair, but was swiftly refused. Enraged, she transformed to her demon form to attack them. Lakshman retaliated cutting off her nose and ears. Surpanakha was forced to retreat to her brother, the demon king Ravana, who swore revenge on the princes.
Later on, Rama went to hunt a golden deer that had caught Sita’s eye. However this was demon sent by Ravana to distract the prince, even calling to mimic Rama and lure Lakshman out as well. Sita was placed behind a protective line, the Lakshmana rekha, which she should never cross. It was here that Ravana disguised himself as old beggar man, to prey of Sita’s compassion. As he begged the princess to feed him, he succeded in luring her beyond the line. Ravana reverted to his true form and kidnapped Sita, taking her back to his kingdom. Witnessing this, a vulture named Jatayu gave chase only to be mortally wounded. On their return, Rama and Lakshman came across the dying Jatyu who revealed that Sita had been taken.
Ram sought Hanuman, the monkey warrior, to aid them in their pursuit. Hanuman agreed as he had previously vowed to always be at Ram’s service, and brought with him the his army of beasts.
In their search, Hanuman leaped across the ocean to Lanka, where he finds Sita held captive in the garden of Ashok Vatika. He gave her Rama’s ring as proof of Rama’s coming to save her. Hanuman returned to Rama, but not before destroying many of the demon king’s forces and burning his land. On his return they begin their march across a bridge to Lanka made by the army.
Rama and Ravana’s armies meet, where Hanuman and his army are able to beat the demons of Ravana. Ravana was the last of the demons standing against Rama. Rama gave Ravana a chance to surrender and return Sita to him, to which Ravana refused. Ravana and Ram exchanged blows, but nothing could beat Ravana. Rama’s brother Vibheeshan revealed the demon’s weakness was it’s Naval. Hearing this, Rama shot an arrow given to him by the gods to kill Ravana instantly.
Soon after the war, Rama, Sita and Lakshman return to Ayodhya at the end of their exile. Rama had asked Sita to preform the test of fire, Agni Pariksha, to prove her chastity, as he wants to get rid of the rumours surrounding her purity. Rama undergoes his coronation and in celebration of light’s victory over the Demon King, Ayodhya is decorated with flowers and lamps.
So, there we go, the story of Ramayana and the meaning behind the festival of lights. Hope you enjoyed the re-telling and more importantly, hope you have a great Diwali full of light, happiness and GREAT Asian food
Written By Ashan Herath