Deepavali is the festival of lights. Be it crackers or the lamps one tries to light up the place. Do you know the reason behind lighting the lamps? Here we tell you the story of Mahabali and the boon he received from Lord Vishnu.
Mahabali is the great great-grandson of the sage Kashyap and great grandson of Hiranyakashipu, grandson of Prahlada and son of Virochana. Prahlada was a Vishnu devotee, and it is also said that he prayed to Vishnu to teach Bali a lesson. However, here is one tale which is believed widely.
It is believed that the Rakshasa (Asur) king Mahabali was growing strong and was about to capture the Devlok (where gods lived). When all the gods came to Vishnu and asked him for a solution, he took the avatar of Vamana-means a dwarf Brahmin.
With an umbrella and the dwarf Brahmin walked into the land of Mahabali and stood before him. Bali, known for his hospitality, received him with respect and asked him what did he want?
Vamana warns him that he will not be able to give whatever he wants. With this, he challenges Bali, who in return says "I can give you anything you ask for'. A smiling Vamana asks for three steps and Mahabali laughs and days 'granted'.
When Vamana prepares himself to keep the first step, he grows larger than life, and his one leg covers the entire earth. With next step, he covers the entire space (sky). Now with no space to keep the third step, he looks at Mahabali.
Ashamed about himself for being overconfident, Bali accepts the defeat and asks Vamana to keep his third step on his head. When Vamana keeps his leg, Mahabali is pushed inside the earth and reaches the Sutala or the nether world.
But as Bali was a good king and much loved by his people, Vishnu in the Vamanavathar gives him a boon. "You can visit your people once a year and see how the state is being administered," and he vanishes.
After this day, Mahabali is believed to come to visit his people once a year and that day are called the Bali Padyami day in Karnataka. It is called with different names in various states around India, but the main aim of celebrating Diwali is to welcome Mahabali.
When he comes, the people want to give him an impression that his kingdom is happy so that he can be in peace for the entire year until he comes the next year. Especially people think he comes at night, and that is why the lamps are lit to welcome the King and spread light throughout 'his kingdom'.
It is also said that Vishnu while banishing Bali to the netherworld, assured to keep him company as his spiritual mentor and preceptor.
So, on the day of Diwali, at least in South India, people take oil bath, wear new clothes and wait for the Bali to come with the lamps lit all over the house.
In Karnataka people also perform Kedargauri vratam or worship goddess Kedar-Gauri – a form of Parvati. The cows are also worshipped.
It can be noted that in the traditional worship, nowhere the bursting of crackers is mentioned. Yes, it is lighting the lamps, preparing good food and having a joyous time.
In the coastal side of Karnataka, there is a practice that on the day of Bali Padyami, people prepare snacks, take it to the fields and hide them under the heap of dry grass. Walking with a lamp in their hand shout Jai Bali, Bali re Bali till they keep the snacks at the designated place and return home.
This is to make sure that Bali gets plenty of food and doesn't return home hungry.
Thus the festival of lights means colourful, prosperity and light even in the dark.
Bali Re Bali....