In the treta yuga, the people of Ayodhya celebrated their first Diwali (Deepavali) on Sri Rama’s return to his hometown. The lighting of lamps on this occasion was subsequently followed by the darshan of Rama. In our age, we can see this most popular Indian festival as an opportunity to welcome Rama in our lives. It reminds us that by dispelling darkness from our mind, we too can be blessed with a darshan of Rama.
It is not surprising that Diwali follows Dusshera, the victory of dharma, and is a bigger festival than Dusshera. If Dusshera is the defeat of unrighteousness, Diwali signifies the Lord’s revelation to the jiva. Interestingly, this face-to-face meeting of Ayodhya’s subjects with their ideal king and an incarnation of God was the result of fourteen years of longing (remembrance). This tells us something about the natural sequence of events in devotion: Remembrance and alignment with dharma are the precursors to God’s darshan, which is a major aim of devotional Hindu spirituality. Once a jiva who adores the Lord sees him, separation again from the Divine may not be possible. According to the Adhyatama Ramayana, the residents of Ayodhya became so attached to Rama that they never separated after celebrating their first Diwali. When Lord Rama left the globe for his abode, all his subjects and beings who were devoted to him, except Lord Hanuman, Vibhishan, and Jambvant, renounced their bodies and were guided to the higher worlds (loka).