Today we celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights

Sunishka Deshpande, 10th grader at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, NC, shares more with us about this Hindu tradition:

Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.” Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival celebrated with lighting diyas, fireworks, and prayer ceremonies (poojas).

The epic of Diwali – The Ramayana is the story of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay oil lamps (diyas). In southern India, people celebrate it as the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic that follows Prince Rama’s quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of Ravana with the help of an army of monkeys. It is one of the staples of later dramatic traditions, re-enacted in dance-dramas, village theatre, shadow-puppet theatre and the annual Ram-lila (Rama-play).

Rama, King of Ayodhya, won the hand of the beautiful princess Sita, but was exiled with her and his brother Laksmana for 14 years through the plotting of his stepmother. In the forest, Sita was abducted by Ravana, and Rama gathered an army of monkeys and bears to search for her. The allies attacked Lanka, killed Ravana, and rescued Sita. In order to prove her chastity, Sita entered fire, but was vindicated by the gods and restored to her husband. After the couple’s triumphant return to Ayodhya, Rama’s righteous rule (Ram-raj) inaugurated a golden age for all mankind. The people of Ayodhya joyously awaited Rama’s return by lighting diyas and bursting firecrackers.

Thanks to Sunishka for sharing more with us!