In the soft glow of lamps

  • POSTED ON: 3 Nov, 2018
  • TOTAL VIEWS: 781 Views
  • POSTED BY: Madhuvanti S. Krishnan | Video: Jagadish Kumar TPM
  • ARTICLE POINTS: 150 Points

The festival of lights is here. Don your new clothes, enjoy the delicacies and burst some crackers… but set aside some time to get familiar with some fascinating legends that surround Deepavali.

Victorious Rama

Narakasura Killed

One of the most popular legends is that of the demon Naraka, said to be the son of Bhumi, the Earth and Lord Vishnu’s varaha avatar (boar). Naraka was the king of Pragjyotishpur and a powerful ruler. He terrorised everyone on Earth. Not satisfied, he turned his gaze on swarga, heaven, and attacked the devas. Indra, the lord of the devas too was unable to match the demon’s prowess and had to surrender to Naraka. He then stole the earrings of Aditi, the mother of the gods, and later, kidnapped 16,000 women. The gods approached Krishna to subdue Naraka and he along with his wife Satyabhama, fought the demon and his forces. Finally, Krishna killed the demon and returned to his kingdom at dawn, after rescuing the 16,000 women that the asura had held captive. On his return, the womenfolk massaged scented oil onto Krishna’s body and bathed him, in order to wash away the demon’s blood. This day is celebrated as Narakachaturdasi, and thus the custom (especially in Maharashtra and South India) of why people have an oil bath before sunrise.

Welcoming Lakshmi

There was a time when the devas incurred the wrath of a sage and lost their immortality. To become immortal again, they had to churn Ksheerasagara, or the milky ocean, for amrit, the divine nectar of immortality. For this, they sought the help of their cousins, the asuras. The churning of the ocean gave the devas and asuras many wondrous things — Ucchaishravas , the divine horse, kalpavriksha , the wish giving tree, the apsaras of swarga, Menaka, Rambha, Tillottama and so on. Out of this churning also emerged Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Thus, this day is also said to be Deepavali when Lakshmi Pooja is performed to honour the goddess. According to another legend, it is on Deepavali that Vamana, the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu, rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali, another reason why the goddess is worshipped on this day.


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