Over the decades, Diwali has become a national festival and regardless of what religion you follow almost everyone in the country enjoys Diwali be it Hindus, Jains, Buddhists or Sikhs. While the festival is celebrated in every part of the country, there are some places that have a historical connection with the festival of lights.
Hindus follow the Diwali customs based upon where they live. In northern India they celebrate the story of Ramayana where Lord Rama returns to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps. On the other hand Southern India celebrates it as the day that Lord Krishna conquered the demon Narakasura. And in western India the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver sent the demon King Bali to rule the posterior world.
What stays in common is the victory of good over the evil and if you are in India on Diwali you must visit some of the Indian cities with a historical connection with Diwali.
- Ayodhya- Ayodhya is the birth place of Lord Rama and also the place from where the great legend begins. It is an all new experience to watch the magnificent enactment of Ramlila here. There are no religious barriers here in Ayodhya; even the Muslims come forward to participate in Ramlila. And so is Diwali celebrated in the most magnificent way here. The city is lit with lakhs and lakhs of diyas every year. This year the Yogi Adityanath government shall illuminate the city with about 1.75 lakh diyas. Such is the grand celebration of Diwali here.
- Allahabad- As per the Ramayana Ram, Lakshman and Sita lived for a brief period in Prayag now known as Allahabad, a major city in Uttar Pradesh and owing to its connection with the spiritual journey of Lord Rama, Diwali is celebrated with great fervor here. The entire city is lit in lights and the rituals and customs of worshipping Goddess Lakshmi and distributing sweets amongst friends and family are followed with great enthusiasm. The city is spiritually inclined and hence Diwali is a festival that is celebrated in the grandest way here.
- Panchavati- This is the place where Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita traveled to after they left Chitrakoot. Panchavati means a garden of five banyan trees. Ramakund located in Panchvati was the place where Lord Ram used to bath while staying at Panchavati. Today, Panchavati is a part of Nashik district of Maharashtra. Kalaram temple that houses black idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshman is also located in Panchavati.
- Kishkindha- Kishkindha is located in Hampi, Karnataka. After Goddess Sita was abducted by Ravana, Lord Ram and Lakshman moved in her search and reached Kishkindha, the kingdom of Bali and Sugriva as per the Ramayana. They both entered into a pact. While Rama helped Sugriva get his kingdom back, Sugriva promised to help find Sita. On their way they met a woman called Sabari who was relieved from the materialistic life after she met Lord Rama and the forest began be known as Sabari Mala, the forest of Sabari.
- Rameshwaram – Rameshwaram is located in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Rameshwaram is the very place from where the bridge to cross over to Lanka was constructed to reach up to Sri Lanka from stones that had Ram written on them. The reason why they could float on water. Before constructing this magical bridge Ram prayed to Lord Shiva for seeking his blessings. Lord Ram also sought pardon from Lord Shiva for killing a brahmin i.e. Ravan.
- Lepakshi- This place is in the modern Andhra Pradesh. This is the same place where Sita was held captive by Ravana. Jatayu, a bird tried to stop Ravana after he kidnapped Sita. Ravana in order to avoid the struggle cut off his wings and Jatayu fell at the place which is now called Lepakshi. Le Pakshi means “rise bird”. Lepakshi is also the same place where Jatayu’s last rites were performed.