on Oct. 24, 2009
With the kind of dazzling spectacle that ISKCON Mayapur has become famous for, this Diwali saw the entire campus illuminated by thousands of oil lamps.
Diwali, a cross-cultural festival that is celebrated in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, commemorates the return of Lord Rama to the city of Ayodhya after rescuing his wife Sita Devi from the demon Ravana.
As he arrived, the inhabitants of the city welcomed their king by lighting up the whole of Ayodhya with deepa vali (numerous lamps).
The Ramayana, the ancient account of God’s adventures on earth appearing as Rama, recounts his return in detail: “Lord Rama was dressed up in royal style and was decorated with garlands and ornaments. The Lord mounted a lavishly decorated chariot and Bharata took up the reins, while Satrughna held the royal white umbrella. On either side stood Vibhishana and Lakshmana, waving a fan and a chamara.”
The atmosphere is palpable: “As Rama proceeded towards Ayodhya, a huge procession followed Him”¦ Men and women, children and the elderly gazed upon Rama as though they were getting back their lost lives. While waving their clothes and jumping with excitement, the people shouted, “ Our beloved prince has returned! All glories to Lord Rama, the maintainer of His devotees.”
At ISKCON Mayapur, devotees recreated this scene by carrying murti forms of Lord Rama, his brother Lakshmana, and Sita Devi on a colorful procession, accompanied by joyous kirtan chanting.
A beautiful traditional sandpainting design, called a rangoli, added to the color and festivity already generated by the multitude of lamps. And as the festival concluded, breath-taking fireworks exploded in the night sky.
Rama’s arrival is a festival that takes on extra meaning in Mayapur, the holy place where Sri Chaitanya—also considered to be Krishna himself—lived five hundred years ago.