Diwali Story

The source of Diwali story is in the Ramayana (Sanskrit: the journey of Rama.) The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two most famous Hindu literature epics. Rama is one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu, and Vishnu is one of the three main gods (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) in Hinduism. Vishnu represents the protection of good from evil and his incarnations appear when the good has to be protected from the evil.

Rama is winning the competition

The king of Ayodhya, Dasharatha had four sons from three different wives. Rama was the oldest and therefore was designated to inherit his father as the king. In their adultness, they went to participate in a competition selecting the recipient held in Mithila by king Janaka.

Rama and Sita in the forest
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in the forest

The winner of the competition was the one which was able to stretch the string bow of Shiva, arc which no one in the world was even able to raise. The winner would gain the beautiful daughter of Janaka, Sita and marry her.

Rama heard about the competition, came to participate, stressed the string of the bow easily and broke it, and therefore won Sita.

Rama, Sita and Lakshmana go into exile

As a result of intrigue in his father’s Palace, Rama who intended to inherit his father and become the king of Ayodhya, lost the Royal just before the coronation ceremony, to one of his brothers, Bharata. On top of that, he was exiled for 14 years into the Forest. Sita, who loved Rama in true love, went with him wholeheartedly, together with Lakshmana, one of Rama’s brothers who joined them.

When Bhrarata found that his mother was the one to stand behind the plot, he became very angry and rushed after Rama on his way to the jungle in order to convince him to come back to the palace and to be the king of Ayodhya, but Rama refused and Bharata went back empty-handed.

As a protest, Bharata put Rama’s sandals on the king’s chair as a symbol that the kingdom belonged to Rama and was waiting for him to come back.

Diwali story
Rama with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana during exile in the forest

In fact, the heart of the story of Ramayana develops in the forest.

In one of their first events in the forest, Rama met the demon female, Shurpankha, sister of Ravana, the King of Lanka who was the king of all demons.

Shurpankha tried to lure Rama, but Rama who was the symbol of nobility and loft was not tempted by her but his brother Lakshmana cut her nose as punishment.

Shurpankha hurried to call for her brother’s help. She showed him what Lakshmana had done to her face.

In addition, she described him the power of Rama and Lakshmana and the legendary beauty of Sita, a beauty that nothing else could be compared to.

In response to this, Ravana sent his army to destroy Rama and Lakshmana but to his great sorrow, his army lost the battle.

As revenge, Ravana planned a plot to kidnap Sita and chose for this mission, the male demon, Maricha.

He asked him to impersonate a dear in order to attract Sita’s attention and to kidnap her. The demon Maricha warned Ravana and told him that this is a dangerous act that will lead to the destruction of his Kingdom, but his warnings fell on deaf ears and Ravana refused to withdraw from his plot.

Sita falls into Ravana’s trap

While Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana walked in the forest, suddenly Sita noticed a beautiful dear and she asked Rama to get this dear for her.

Rama feared that this was a trap but Sita’s request convinced him eventually to go after the dear and to hunt him. After the dear was injured from Rama’s arrow, the dear called for help in Rama’s voice.

Lakshmana heard it but feared to leave Sita alone, but then Sita became angry and blamed him that he didn’t mind letting Rama die since he wanted to inherit him.

What is Diwali?
Shurpankha is trying to seduce Rama

Of course, this was not Lakshmana’s plan and he rushed to help Rama, but not before he sketched a circle in the ground and told Sita that as long as she remained in the circle, nothing bad would befall her.

While the demon, Maricha managed to keep Rama and Lakshmana occupied, Ravana the King of Demons, appeared, impersonating a brahmin and asked for charity from Sita.

Sita could not escape from her obligation to host and support the Brahmin, and made a mistake and left the circle. This was the moment Ravana was waiting for. First, he tried to convince her to join him from her own free will and to live with him in his kingdom life of wealth and splendor, as a beautiful woman like her was entitled to.

Sita immediately and fiercely refused and warned him from the tremendous power of Rama, but Ravana, who was extremely strong by himself, was not impressed or intimidated by Sita’s descriptions of Rama. Then he dragged her to his flying wagon and started to fly. Sita cried out: Oh Rama, oh Lakshmana, but her cry did not help.

While in the air, she threw out her jewelry and her scarf, hoping it would be used as a hint.

Ravana allocated her 12 months to decide whether she wanted to marry him and live with him or she would be cut to pieces, cooled, and served to him as breakfast.

Rama and Lakshmana are looking for Sita

When Rama and Lakshmana understood that they fell into a trap, they rushed back to their place to look for Sita but nothing was there.

Rama, with his great love for Sita, felt huge sorrow. They called her and looked after her but found nothing. Rama did not save his reproof from Lakshmana who left Sita alone in the forest.

The wrath of Rama flared, as time passed. They kept looking in the forest after any sign of Sita or hint of what happened.

Summary of Diwali story
Hanuman meets Rama and Lakshmana in the forest

Suddenly they met Getayu, a huge eagle, King of the animals. He was dying on the ground after a fight he had with Ravana when he tried to stop him from kidnapping Sita.

He was breathing his last breaths, and in his last power told Rama and Lakshmana what happened.

While they were searching in the forest for clues, they were noticed by Hanuman, half man and half monkey, an enormously strong creature.

Hanuman impersonated a monk and approached them in order to figure out their intentions.

After he heard their story, he introduced them to Sugriva, who claimed to be the King of the apes and explained that his kingdom and his wife were taken from him by his brother Vali.

Rama helped Sugriva to defeat Vali and to restore his kingdom. By this Rama gained his loyalty.

Rama was waiting in his kingdom until the monsoon season passed and when the day came, Sugriva called for all forest creatures to join his army and to get prepared for the arch after the battle with Ravana when they find Sita.

Sugriva briefed them all before they started the search and mentioned plenty of places they had to search, some very distant, some with no approach, some deep in the ocean, and some in the top of the mountains.

Hanuman in Lanka

Eventually, it was Hanuman who managed to find Sita in Lanka, in Ravana’s palace, sitting alone, in an orchard, surrounded by demons. He noticed her sadness, and suddenly he saw Ravana approaching her, trying to convince her to become his wife, telling her she had only 2 months left to make up her mind but still, Sita refused him.

The story of Diwali
Hanuman, the symbol of loyalty

She accused him that he did not know the Dharma, the law of moral behavior and again warned him of Rama’s revenge. Her words aroused his anger.

After he left, Hanuman found the right timing and approached Sita silently, he presented himself, told her everything he could and eventually offered to carry her on his back, out of Lanka, to Rama.

Sita refused.

She was afraid Hanuman won’t be able to fight with the chasing demons and protect her at the same time.

In addition, it was Rama’s glory to release her and she didn’t want to deprive it from him.

When Hanuman left, he destroyed Ashoka orchard. Many demons rushed to fight him, and he killed many, but eventually, they managed to capture him and took him to Ravana.

Rama is crossing the Ocean to Lanka

Diwali explanation
Ravana, king of the demons

Hanuman warned Ravana of Rama’s revenge. As a punishment, the demons lit his tail on fire and sent him away.

Hanuman, who was immune to the harm of fire, flew around Lanka and burned as many houses as he could. His self-satisfaction from his actions was disturbed by his fear of Sita’s safety. He went back to Ashoka orchard and found her there safe and healthy.

Hanuman returned back to the camp and reported everyone about Sita, her status, and what was happening there. Rama was grateful to Hanuman and his braveness. He praised him in front of everyone.

While King Sugriva organized all forces in order to attack Lanka, at the same time Ravana in his palace, was worried and concerned. He asked his advisors how a city which was fortified and impossible to penetrate could be breached and damaged so much by this half man, half monkey.

Sugriva’s army had to cross the ocean on their way to Lanka but the ocean was huge, deep, and impossible to cross.

Rama became impatient and picked up his heavenly weapon and shot his frightful bullets to the ocean. His bullets shocked the ocean and disturbed the peacefulness of the depth monsters that live in its bottom. Then Rama shot another huge bullet which moved the ancient mountains from its place. It caused the ocean god to come out of the ocean and to suggest a path for Sugriva’s army.

The battle between Rama and Ravana

Diwali story rama and sita
Rama and Sita (left: Ravana, right: Lakshmana)

After Sugriva’s army crossed the ocean, the epic battle started. Many fell dead from both sides and in one of the peak moments of the battle, Rama and Lakshmana were injured badly from Indrajit’s toxic bullets. It was the Garuda, a legendary Phoenix that appeared at the right time and in the right place to save Rama and Lakshmana with his touch.

Another huge demon, Kumbhakarna, was sent by Ravana to terminate Sugriva’s army. This scary demon was killed by Rama but not before he managed to kill many of the forest creatures in Sugriva’s army.

Eventually, the most crucial battle took place between Ravana and Rama. It was a fierce battle but it was Rama who won the victory and defeated Ravana, the king of demons.

Reunification of Rama and Sita

When the war ended, the meeting between Sita and Rama took place. Despite the tremendous love between them, Rama turned to her and told her that he had done everything for her to protect his honor. His suspicion that Ravana had touched Sita’s body gave him an unpleasant feeling. Rama told Sita that he could not accept her again and allowed her to be with whom she chose.

Diwali story in English
Vishnu avatars

Sita was shocked by Rama’s words and refused to accept them and the way they were said.

After declaring her absolute loyalty throughout her stay with Ravana, she turned to Lakshmana and asked him to set a fire. Lakshmana looked at Rama, who offered to continue.

Lakshmana set the fire and Sita jumped into it after she prayed and asked for the fire’s protection if she was loyal to Rama. While on fire, the three major gods, Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu appeared. Brahma turned to him and said:

“You are the non-extinct cosmic entity. You are the truth. You are eternal. You are the supreme Dharma of the worlds… You are the OM and you are also the spirit of sacrifice… Sita is Lakshmi and you are Vishnu… ”

After he had finished, he went out to the fire, carrying Sita, saying he found nothing wrong with her. Not in thought, not in word, or deed.

During the period of captivity, Sita belonged only to Rama and therefore he was ordered not to treat her rudely. Rama was happy with Brahma’s words and only then could he reunite with Sita.

The return to Ayodhya

At the end of the events, Rama, Sita, Kashmana, and their escorts returned to Ayodhya, the kingdom from which Rama was exiled.

Diwali festival
Diwali, lights festival

His arrival aroused great excitement among the residents and a large procession, headed by Bharata (who was appointed as king of Ayodhya in Rama’s place), greeted him.

According to Hindu tradition, many candles were lit to mark the way for Rama and Sita to Ayodhya, and this is the source of the custom of lighting lights in Diwali.

This was the beginning of Rama’s 11,000-year reign.

“In the years of Rama’s rule, the kingdom did not know poverty and crime, fear and injustice. The people always talked about Rama… They were all devoted to the Dharma.”

Write A Comment

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest updates from "East Asian Cultures".

You have Successfully Subscribed!