Two popular legends about the origin of Deepavali remind us that good triumphs over evil:
The demon King Ravana kidnapped Sita who was the wife of Rama. Rama went to rescue her and fought a battle with Ravana. Rama cut off Ravana’s ten heads and then killed him. A jubilant success, Rama went back to the city of Ayodhya with his wife arriving in the dark of night. To help them see where they were going, the people lit small oil lamps outside their houses. Rama was soon crowned king and ruled happily for many years. Since that time, people have celebrated Deepavali by lighting oil lamps and placing them outside their homes.
Another demon King Narakasura is said to have reigned with fear and stole 16,000 daughters from many of the gods. When Lord Krishna heard about these wicked deeds, he challenged Narakasura to a battle. Narakasura came with his regiment of four tusked elephants and a tough fight began. Krishna cut off the five heads of Narakasura and killed him. The people were so happy to be rid of the wicked king. Narakasura was defeated at 4:30 in the morning. Lord Krishna returned after the battle and was bathed in luxurious oils. Since that time, people have celebrated Deepavali on that day and bathing with oil became part of the tradition.
Components of both legends, the oil lamps and the oil baths, are part of Deepavali as we know it today.
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