Primary legend – The story of Rama and Sita:
Diwali is the day when King Rama`s coronation was celebrated in Ayodhya after his epic struggle with Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Lord Rama was an excellent warrior, who was exiled by his father Dashratha along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman.
Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, in which he put an end to the Ravana. In Ayodhya, the people welcomed them by lighting rows of clay lamps. So, it’s an occasion in honor of Rama’s victory over Ravana; of Truth’s victory over Evil.
There are some lesser known stories about diwali make it more special and famous:
The Story of Samudramanthan:
The first day of Diwali is Dhanvantari Trayodasi, when Lord Dhanvantari appeared, delivering Ayurvedic medicine for mankind. This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. The legend of Samudramanthan is at the heart of these celebrations. According to this story, when the gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrut or nectar, Dhanavantri, the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu emerged carrying a jar of the elixir.
The story of Dhanteras:
A really attention-grabbing story about Dhanteras is of the sixteen year old son of King Hima. As per his horoscope he was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular fourth day of his marriage his young wife didn’t allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in an enormous heap at the entrance of her husband’s boudoir and lighted innumerable lamps all over the place.
And she went on telling tales and singing songs. When Yama the god of Death arrived there in the guise of a serpent his eyes were suddenly blinded by the dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the Prince’s chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away.
Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came to be generally known as the day of Yamadeepdaan and lamps are kept burning all through the night in reverential adoration to Yama, the god of Death.
Lord Krishna destroyed demon Narakasur:
The second day of Diwali is Naraka Chaturdasi. On this day Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and liberated the 16,000 princesses the demon held captive.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu in his eighth incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narkasura.
The demon Narakaasura was the evil king of Pragjyotishapura, close to present-day Assam. Power made the demon king boastful and he grew to become dangerous to his subjects and even to the gods. He dominated with a reign of terror,
kidnapped 16,000 daughters of the gods, and stole the earrings of Aditi, mother of the gods.
The Narakasur Legend of Diwali goes like this: Narkasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He was giant who was usually good however at instances, behaved very badly. He used to kidnap beautiful young girls and power them to reside with him. The gods requested Lord Krishna for help, and after a mighty battle he killed the demon, freed the girls and recovered the earrings. First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster that guarded the demon’s home.
The rescue of the 16,000 girls is said to be the origin of the story that Krishna had 16,000 wives. Krishna granted Narakasur one final request, due to the good deeds he had performed. Narkasura hoped that his demise may deliver pleasure to others. So, earlier than being killed, he cried, “Let at the present time be celebrated as a day of feasting within the World!” Krishna granted his request. After his victory Krishna returned very early within the morning and was bathed and massaged with scented oils. Taking an early morning bath with oil is still a Deepavali tradition.
This Diwali story is a reminder that good always defeats evil. However this legend is known only in the Western and Southern India, it isn’t known in the North and East. In Western and Southern India Hindus smash a bitter fruit (referred to as Kaarita) with their big toe on Naraka-chaturdashi day. That is performed after having a ceremonial bath in which sandalwood paste and sweet smelling essences are used to re-enact the slaying of Narakasura. The day subsequently is dedicated to lights and prayers heralding a future filled with pleasure and laughter.