Diwali is a major festival to be celebrated in India and has been given an enormous spiritual reverence in Hindu mythology. Quite popular as the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated with great fervour in our country. On this day, people generally decorate their homes with lights and diyas with joy filled in their hearts. Gifts are exchanged and all the decoration and fun are followed by a puja ceremony in the evening after which people devour scrumptious meals and sweets along with their family and friends. It feels as if the whole environment reverberates with bliss and festivities.
Diwali traces its origin back to the time when Lord Rama had returned with his beloved wife Goddess Sita and brother Lakshmana to take his rightful place on the throne of Ayodhya after defeating the demon and Mayavi king Ravana. So, Diwali in its essence symbolizes the spiritual 'victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance', light being a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness.
During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated. As per the Gregorian calendar, the festival generally falls between mid-October and mid-November.
As per the traditional legends, the festival of Diwali is referred to as the day when Lord Rama had come back to the city of Ayodhya along with his beloved wife Goddess Sita and Lord Lakshmana after a 14 year-long period of exile. It is during that time only when he killed the demon king Ravana on the land of Sri Lanka. It happened during the Treta Yuga - the second yuga in the cycle of four yugas.
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According to this legend, when Goddess Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, Lord Rama had to make an impossible journey to the land of Sri Lanka deep down south to save her. And on his journey, he found many trustworthy followers like Lord Hanuman and the Vanar Sena who helped Lord Rama to free his beloved wife from the custody of Ravana.
Another mythological remnant of history states that it was on this day in Dwaparayuga when Lord Krishna had killed the demon Narakasura who was also the king of Pragjyotishapura and had freed 16,000 women held in his captivity. Thus, the festival of Diwali is celebrated as a triumph of good over evil.
And there are many Hindus who associate the festival of Diwali with Goddess Lakshmi. The legends suggest that it was also the day when Goddess Lakshmi was born from the epic Samudra Manthan; the churning of the cosmic ocean of milk by the Gods (Devas) and the Asuras (Demons). This is a very ancient legend tracing its roots back to many Puranas. One such Purana which mentions this is the Padma Purana.
And in the eastern side of India, the festival of Diwali is mainly associated with Goddess Durga as her ferocious Avatar Goddess Kali again symbolising the victory of good over evil.
It has been mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit texts that the festival Diwali has also been considered as the coming of harvest festivals in India. Padma Purana and Skanda Purana mention this fact. And the diyas which people light with so much joy symbolize the parts of the sun, further describing it as the celestial giver of life which gives energy to Earth.
What is more intriguing about this festival is the fact that Diwali has also been described by many travellers and historians from outside the land of India as well in history. For example, somewhere around the 11the century, the Persian traveller by the name of Al Biruni had mentioned this festival in his life memoir as the festival celebrated by the Hindu people on the New Moon day in the Kartika month. Apart from that, a Venetian merchant by the name of Niccolò de' Conti also mentioned about Diwali in his memoir somewhere around the 15th century.
Diwali is celebrated for five days in total starting from Dhanteras leading to Diwali and then Bhai Dooj. Every day has its own significance and it is an unfeigned ordeal for each one of the visitors. People also worship Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi who bring wealth and good luck to the families.
On this pious occasion, the bazaars and homes are decorated with great pomp and show. There is an enormous use of diyas and rangolis. The bazaars seem to be a grand feast of decorative items to shop around. People visit each other's homes with a gift and an open welcoming heart. People also prepare a variety of delicacies and sweets in their homes and share them with others.
Kanak Bhavan Temple. Also famously known as the Sone Ka Mandir, this temple derives its name from the Gold lit idols of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. This temple acts as one of the best places to visit in Ayodhya during the festivities and celebrations of Diwali festival. The temple is decorated with a little extra delight and reverence. It is said that the beauty of this place during sunrise seems to be no less than a miracle. As per the legends, Queen Kaikeyee who was responsible for exiling Lord Rama had built this temple, especially for Goddess Sita showcasing her repentance.
Hanuman Garhi. One of the most popular religious shrines in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, Hanuman Garhi comes across as quite an amazing tourist attraction for the devotees and tourists alike, especially during the time of Diwali. As per the legends, it is said that all the sins of the devotees get washed away visiting this place. And during the festive time of Diwali, this temple seems like a spiritual hub for offering prayers.
By Air - The nearest airport from Ayodhya is the Lucknow airport and the Faizabad airport. The Lucknow airport has got very good connectivity with other major cities of India such as New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata receiving direct flights. If you have a plan to travel via air then it will take you around 1 hour to 4 hours to reach Ayodhya basis your location.
By Road - The connectivity via road networks to Ayodhya from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata is very good. From these respective destinations, it will take you a time frame of around 10 hrs, 27 hrs, 34 hrs, 26 hrs, 18 hrs respectively. To travel via road you can consider taking a route from NH44, NH27 or NH19.
By Train - The Ayodhya railway station is the nearest railhead. This city has got very good connectivity via rail network from all the major and nearby cities in India. So, if you plan to reach Ayodhya by train then it would be a completely hassle-free experience for you.
27 October 2019
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