Some lesser known facts about Diwali-- a festival that has many versions in India

Some lesser known facts about Diwali-- a festival that has many versions in  India

Diwali is celebrated as the festival heralding the victory of good over evil. Diwali is one notable festival that connects Indian together. In fact, along with the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists too have their own versions of Diwali. Hence there is something unique and grand about this festival. Diwali is also known by some other names. There are some interesting legends associated with these different names of Diwali. Here are a few interesting names and stories connected to Diwali that you might not have known.

Some known legends

Diwali is celebrated as the day of victory of good over the evil. There are three popular stories associated with Diwali for the Hindus. Hindus celebrate Diwali as the day of Rama’s return to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile in the forest and a triumphant victory over the demon king Ravana. In some parts of India, Diwali marks the start of Mahabharata war. Hence in some regions, the scenes of Mahabharata are enacted on this day. This day also marks the victory of Krishna and his consort Satyabhama over the demon Narakasur.

Bhau Beej

In Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, Diwali is also known by the name Bhau Beej. In the northern parts of the nation, this version of Diwali is called by other names such as Bhai Tika, Bhathru Dwithiya, Bhai Dooj. A legend says that it was on this day that Yama, the god of death visited his sister Yamuna. Hence this day is also known by the name Yama Dwitiya. Yama is received on this day with some interesting offerings and pujas.


During the incarnation of Vamana, the fourth descent of Vishnu on this earth, the Lord took the form of a small boy and subdued the demon Mahabali by asking for alms and measuring the three worlds by assuming a cosmic form. After this process of taking away the three worlds from the demon king, Mahabali was sent to the netherworlds on the day of Diwali known as Balipratipada.

The day of Nirvana

Jains celebrate Diwali in the name Dipalika or the splendor of lamps. It was on this day that Mahavir, the twenty fourth Tirtankar of Jainism attained Nirvana or Moksha in Pawanpuri of Bihar. In the text known as Harivamsha Purana written by Acharya Jinasena, he has mentioned that the Tirtankars decorated the Pavanagiri with lamps to celebrate the occasion. Swetambar Jains observe fasting for three days around this time. Congregational prayers and readings from Mahavira;s teachings are very popular on this day. For Jains, this day also marks the birth of a new year. Hence on this day, they greet others with the slogan ‘Nava Saal Mubarak’ which means Happy New Year.

Diwali for the Sikhs

Sikhs celebrate Diwali as Bandi Chhor Diwas meaning the day of liberation. It was on this day in 1619 that their sixth Guru Hargobind Singh was released from the prison of Jahangir.

The festival that unites

The most common theme of the different versions of Diwali is the triumph of good over evil. Hence Diwali is celebrated as the festival of lights by several communities in India. Lighting of lamps, feasts, prayers, pujas, charities, merriment and fireworks are some of the common characteristics of Diwali celebrations by the different communities.