I did actually do a whole series of posts explaining the Ramayana. But this one is just a quick thing so you understand Diwali and how it fits in sort of. It’s the same post from last year.
Let me start with the quick story of Diwali. There was a king in Olden Times who had 3 wives and 4 sons. His first most respected wife was mother to Ram. His second most beloved wife was mother to Bharat. His third wife was mother to the twins Lakshman and Shatrughan.
(Not this Shatrughan)
The 4 brothers grew up loving and close, Bharat and Ram were the leaders with Lakshman faithfully following Ram and Shatrughan following Bharat. In the fullness of time, they were engaged to be married. This was Olden Times, so they had a childhood engagement and then the fiancees were brought to be raised in their household until they were of age. Ram and Lakshman were engaged to sisters, Sita and Urmila. The two sisters had been raised in another royal household, one of great learning where they were invited to listen to dissertations by great sages.
(Not this Urmila)
Ram was the oldest son and the son of the First Wife, and beyond that he was just “better” than his brothers, wiser and kinder and more beloved by the people. Everyone looked forward to the day he would officially be named as his father’s heir. However, Bharat’s mother, the king’s most beloved wife, was jealous. She decided to use a boon the king had promised her years earlier to force him to exile Ram and name Bharat as crown prince instead. No one wanted this, including Bharat. But because the king had given his word to his wife, he had to do it. And Ram, in order to honor his father’s word, agreed to be exiled. Going with him were his younger brother Lakshman (leaving behind his own wife Urmila) and his faithful wife Sita who refused to be parted from him.
(This the story of K3G, Shahrukh as Ram, Kajol as Sita, and Hrithik as a combination of Bharat who is unfairly given Ram’s inheritance and Lakshman who goes into exile with Ram and marries the sister of his wife)
Ram and Sita and Lakshman left and all of their kingdom followed them, until Ram ordered them to turn back and go about their duties. Bharat accepted the responsibility of ruling, but refused the honors, feeling they belonged to Ram. Instead, he placed Ram’s shoes upon the throne to wait for him.
(This movie is all about the pain of Bharat, left to fill shoes that are too big for him)
Life in exile isn’t that bad, partly because Ram and Sita and Lakshman are such good people, they do not need wealth or power to be happy. But then it all goes wrong when an king, Raavan, sees Sita and falls in love with her beauty. He comes from a more lawless kingdom and does not respect Sita’s marriage vows. He tricks and kidnaps her and then offers her all the wealth of his kingdom to enjoy. But she refuses, instead wanting to simply sit under a tree in his courtyard and wait for Ram to come for her.
(Here is Sita, waiting)
Ram and Lakshman, meanwhile, are traveling the length and breadth of India looking for Sita. Along the way they get involved in the internal politics of a kingdom run by monkeys, helping one king defeat another and take the throne. They are befriended by one of the strongest and best of the monkey warriors, Hanuman. He finds Ram to be more true and good and worthy of following than his own king and leaves with Ram and Lakshman to help them find Sita. Ram and Lakshman are skilled and trained, but it is Hanuman’s raw strength and good heart that saves the day over and over again.
(In this terrible terrible movie, our hero tries to emulate Hanuman and serve his noble father who he sees as “Ram”. He is very very strong but not necessarily very smart)
Finally, Ram and Lakshman and Hanuman reach Lanka, where Sita is being held. They attack and, with the help of Hanuman’s Monkey Army, defeat Raavan and rescue Sita. Coincidentally, this all happens just as the years of exile are completed. Ram and Sita return to Ayodha, their kingdom, in happiness and triumph. DIWALI!!!!
Good triumphs over evil, light over darkness. In a large sense, the reason Ram and Sita were exiled, and the reason Sita was kidnapped, the reason for all of these dark things happening, was to drive them to a point where Ram had no choice but to fight and destroy Raavan. There is a greater plan and meaning to every step in life, even steps into darkness, because on the other side of darkness is the light.
In the “real world” Diwali is celebrated in various ways that all tie in to the idea of a new bright beginning. Parties, of course. You might also clean and/or paint your house. Buy a new outfit for the day. Perhaps buy new appliances. And the biggest part, all the light! Your house might be covered in electric lights on the outside, you will use the little “diya” oil wick candles in the temple or your family shrine, and you will set off fireworks. The fireworks are such a big thing that there are now anti-firework campaigns because they are a serious pollution hazard. But mostly it is about welcoming in a new time of light and hope and joy.
Now, let’s have some LIGHT!!!!!