What is the significance of Diwali? Diwali is celebrated on the day when Lord Krishna killed a demon called ‘Narkasura’. Narakasura consists of two words viz. narak + asura. Narak has several meanings. Naraka means hell. In epics, 21 types of hells are referred. Pluto is said to be lord of death as per Roman literature. God of death is known as Yama in Vedas. Pluto’s realm is said to have 21 different types that correspond to 21 hells referred in Hindu mythology. Nara means Arjuna also. The word ‘asura’ means incorporeal, a super human form. In the ancient texts of Rik Veda the word ‘asura’ is used to refer the ‘Brahman’. It was only subsequently the ‘asura’ was meant to mean the demons. As per the modern interpretation, slaying of Narakasura means the destruction of all those evil acts that lead to one or more varieties of hells. The hell indicates darkness and in order to dispel the darkness, lamps are lit to drive away the evil forces. Knowledge is called light. The darkness of evil and ignorance is dispelled by the light of knowledge and wisdom is the concept of Diwali.
There are several stories about the demon Narakasura in epics. He carried the daughter of Vishvakarma, the architect of God’s worlds to his place and outraged her. Apart from this, the demon also carried away daughters of demigods to his place. Lord Krishna killed Narakasura and released these women. This could possibly mean the liberation. There is yet another story where the demon carried the earrings of the demigod Aditi; Krishna, at the request of all the gods killed Narakasura and handed over the earrings to Aditi. Aditi is the god representing guests. This could mean that when we honour our guests with food and water, we will get back the amount spent on them. The importance of hosting is considered as one of the sacred rituals in Indian mythology. The concept of Diwali is significant. It means that we have to get rid of all the evils (associating with our senses) by knowledge and wisdom. The lighting of lamps and bursting of crackers mean dispelling darkness leading to illuminating light. Let us celebrate this Diwlali with love and care. Happy Diwali.