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People of different faiths come together on Diwali.

Diwali, the festival of light that signifies the victory of good over evil. It brings happiness, progress, prosperity and longevity of life to those who celebrate the festival. People of different faiths, religions, social statuses and other differences come together to light up the moonless night of Diwali with Diyas, lanterns and firecrackers. They share meals and sweets filled with love and joy.

The most widely known story of why Diwali is celebrated is that Hindus, that Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya after rescuing Sita and after 14 years of exile. However, within Hinduism itself, there are variations as to why Diwali is celebrated. Diwali has different but equally significant meanings in different religions.


In Jainism, Diwali holds a very special meaning to it. It commemorates the anniversary of Lord Mahavira's, the last Thirthankar's attainment of Nirvana (final release) or liberation of Mahavira's soul. He attained his freedom from the cycle of reincarnation, Bihar's Pavapur in 527 B.C.E. Lord Mahavira was the 24th and last Thirtankat of Jainism, he gave his spiritual teachings and build the religion as it is today.

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The tales say that Lord Mahavira was aware that his time in this world was coming to end. As soon as the news of his departure spread, the city was drowned in the gloom, the devotees were, grieving, even nature felt the Lord's impending doom and looked crestfallen. Indra the king of Gods, who had prepared himself for Lord's departure, lost his composure and the thought of Lord leaving the world pained him to no end.

Indra, unable to bear the pain and as the advocate of anxious people and natured reached out to Mahavira to persuade him to delay his departure, even if it was just for a moment. However, the Lord calmly told Indra, "Indraraj, lust blinds one. You love my body and hence your request. You are knowledgeable and yet you forget that no one - God, demon, or a human being - can extend the lifeline by even a fraction. The mission for which I was born as a human being is accomplished and a moment more here is a great burden to me. See Indra, there is spring blooming and there is a new dawn of sat, chit, anand. Welcome it." Following the events, the Lord transcended Badar Manyog and Vachan-yog and rested in kayayoga the last vestige of life on the planet. The Lord had achieved Nirvana.

It is said that just as Lord Mahavira attained Moksha, darkness spread all around the world on his loss. The guiding light which had enlightened many souls with his knowledge had burnt out. Indra regaining his composure announced, "Light the lamps. Lord has attained nirvana."

Till this day each year on Diwali, Jains celebrate Diwali to remember their Lord Mahavira and his teachings. In Jain scriptures the occasion was first referred to as dipalikaya meaning light leaving the body, it is said that the earth and the heavens were illuminated with lamps to mark Lord Mahavira's enlightenment.

The place where Lord attained nirvana at Pawanpuri was built into a beautiful picturesque Jain temple, Jal Mandir. It is surrounded by a rectangular tank. People believe that the temple has footprints of Mahavira and that place in the temple is reserved for worship.

Celebration

Jain Diwali, Idol of Tirthankar and Prayers Jains offer Nirvan Ladoo to Lord Mahavira after the prayers in all Jain temples all over the worldWikimedia Commons


On the morning of Diwali Jains offer Nirvana Ladoo to Lord Mahavira after the prayers in all Jain temples all over the world. Jains usually avoid firecrackers during Diwali as they have the potential to harm living organisms, which is against one of the most important principles of Ahimsa (non-violence). During Diwali usually, the atmosphere in Jain households is cloaked with austerity, simplicity, serenity, equity, calmness, charity, philanthropy and environment-consciousness. Temples, homes, offices, shops are decorated with lights and diyas. Relatives distribute sweets to each other. These lights symbolize knowledge and the removal of ignorance.

ALSO READ: How different faiths, states celebrate Diwali

Swetambar Jains observe two days of fasting in remembrance of the penance and sacrifice of Mahavira. Devotees sing and chant hymns and mantras from Jain religious texts in praise of the Tirthankar and congregate for prayer and recite verses from the Uttaradhyayan Sutra which contain the last teachings of Mahavira. The Jain year starts with Pratipada, the next day of Diwali.

Keywords: Jainism, Diwali, celebration, religion, Lord Mahavira, Lanterns lighting, Jain temples, night of Diwali with Diyas.


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