Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Reason to Celebrate

A Reason To Celebrate…

Diwali, a symbol of victory of good over evil is one such festival which is celebrated in all parts of the world with great enthusiasm especially in India….

Diwali has always been one of my favourite festival because during these days you see all the places so beautifully decorated with all those colourful lights, those beautiful kandils and those breath taking rangolis…. And most importantly you get an opportunity to officially spend on dresses and footwear without any restriction…

Diwali surely has always been a reason to celebrate for all of us but why do we celebrate diwali….?? I’m sure each one of us has been told a story behind Diwali during our childhood and most of us know that we celebrate Diwali as home coming of lord Rama after defeating Ravana but do you know that this is just one story and there are several such stories behind Diwali celebration and so I decided to google it out… I found a lot of stories on this theme… There were some 8 to 10 stories but here are two of them which I found quiet interesting…

The defeat of Naraka…

In the ancient times, there lived an asura(demon) named naraka who obtained a boon from the great god Brahma, granting him power over males of all classes- asura, deva, and manusha (man). Having received this boon, Naraka began to trouble everyone. With time his evil activities began to increase and he attempted to conquer Devlok and attacked Lord Indra, the king of devas….

Being terrified by Naraka’s act, lord Indra approached Krishna to seek his help. Krishna agreed to help Indra and called for his chariot and requested his wife Queen Satyabhama to accompany them for the war as she was an excellent combat….

Krishna along with his wife and all devtas approached Naraka’s Palace fighting all odds… Naraka and Krishna fought for a while until one of Naraka’s bow struck Krishna’s shoulder because of which he fell on the chariots floor… Seeing this Queen Satyabhama came to Krishna’s rescue and picked up his bow and arrow and called out, "Naraka, your boon grants you power over all males. But dare you fight a woman….”

Naraka took the queens challenge lightly which was his biggest mistake…

The brave queen stood her ground and with careful aim begun to shoot her arrows. Like lightening, they sped through the air, finding their mark before Naraka could even string his bow! Naraka screamed out in pain and fell to the ground with a thud. And in this way Queen Satyabhama destroyed the demon…

To this day, Hindus in southern India remember Queen Satyabhama's victory over the wicked Naraka by joyfully lighting lamps to brighten the darkest night of the year.

Three steps of land…..

Long ago there lived a great king called Bali who, although he was an asura, was honorable, generous, and just.

He decided to carry out a pooja to please God Brahma and get a boon from him to become invincible. The devas, however, were greatly alarmed by Bali's devotion. "What if Lord Brahma grants him a boon that will make him invincible? He must be stopped before he can cause harm." And so they rushed to lord Vishnu to seek for his help, to which he agreed.

Meanwhile Bali’s yagna ceremonies were at its peak. Just then, a small dwarf entered the sacrificial hall. "0 great King," said the dwarf. "I see that you are giving away gifts. May I, too, have a gift?"

"Of course," replied Bali generously.

"No one is to be turned away. You can ask for anything and it is yours."

"All I want is a small piece of land," said the dwarf, bowing low. 'Just three steps will do."

"Is that all?" Bali was confused. The dwarf had such tiny legs. "You could ask for much more. A large estate, food, clothing, riches, perhaps even a beautiful bride"

"No, no," said the dwarf, shaking his head. "I have no need of such things. Just three steps will do."

"So be it!" pronounced King Bali, waving his hand generously. "Take your three steps, Dwarf."

At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu, and now he took his first step… To everyone's surprise, it covered the whole earth! He then took his second step. To Bali's alarm, it covered the whole sky!

Stretching once more, lord Vishnu raised his leg to take his third step. But there was nowhere to place it. He had already covered the whole world!

"You promised me three steps," he said. "Where should I place my foot now?" to which Bali replied . "I always fulfill my promises," he declared gravely. "I promised you three steps and three steps you shall have. Place the third on my head, 0 Lord."

Lord Vishnu then placed his foot on Bali's head and pushed him deep into the underworld. Petals fell from the sky as devas came out to rejoice.But the people of Bali's kingdom were far from being happy, for they loved their generous king. Vishnu, too, felt sorry for him, for, after all, he was good and kind. "Bali, you are a good king and your people love you. Therefore, you may return to visit them once a year," he announced.

And thus, once a year,Bali returns to visit his people, who greet him with great rejoicing and this day is celebrated as Diwali....

Different people, different stories but the base line is that the festival of Diwali has something for each one of us which could be in form of Diyas, lights, kandils, rangolis, crackers, sweets, gifts and the list goes on…. It has a reason to smile for everyone…

Here’s wishing you all a very happy, safe and prosperous Diwali….