Diwali in Jainism:
Diwali has special significance in Jainism. Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankar of this period, attained Nirvana or Moksh on this day at Pavapuri on 15 October 527 BCE, on Chaturdashi of Kartika. According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu, third century BC, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness. Subsequently, Jains celebrate Diwali as a day of remembering Mahavira.
Coronation of King Vikramaditya:
One other legend or story about Diwali celebrations pertains to one of the the legendary Hindu kings – Vikramaditya. Historically it’s believed that on a Diwali day in 56 BC King Vikramaditya, famed for his wisdom, bravery and bigheartedness, was crowned and declared to be a king. This was marked by a grand celebration by the residents of Vikramaditya’s kingdom who celebrated the coronation of their king by lighting up small earthen lamps and that custom still prevails.
Nichiketa and Yama:
One other very attention-grabbing story about Diwali day is from the Kathopanishad. In this story, a small boy known as Nichiketa believed that Yam, the god of Death was as black as the dark night of amavasya. However when he met Yam in person he was puzzled seeing Yam’s calm countenance and dignified stature.
Yam explained to Nichiketa that on Diwali, passing through the darkness of death, man sees the light of highest knowledge. It is just then only his soul can escape from the bondage of his mortal body to mingle with the Supreme Power. It was then that Nichiketa realized the significance of worldly life and significance of death.
Diwali in Sikhism:
For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619. The Sikh tradition holds that the Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 princes. The Emperor was requested to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. Nevertheless, Guru Hargobind asked that the princes be released also.
The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the jail. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave. However, Guru Hargobind had a cloak made with 52 pieces of string and so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison. Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Hargobind by lighting the Golden Temple and this tradition continues till today.