About 7000 years ago there lived a king Rama who along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakhsman were all having an adventure in a jungle living in a small garden hut called Vatika surrounded by many animals and colourful flowers and trees. Sita suddenly saw a golden deer hopping around their hut Vatika and she loved it so much she wanted to have it as her own pet so she could look after it. She asked her husband Rama if she could have it. Rama then tried to catch the golden deer but the deer was playful and ran away. Then both the brothers Rama and Lakshman went chasing after it to catch it for Sita.
So while the brothers were away chasing the golden deer, trying to catch it, Sita was left all alone in her Vatika hut. Then another bad king Ravana from a nearby kingdom came and snatched poor Sita and took her to his kingdom. Sita was very beautiful and Ravana wanted to marry her so Ravana proposed to her on his knees but Sita said No because she said she was already married. How can you have two husbands or two wives? You can’t. You only have one husband and one wife. But although Ravana did a bad thing to take away Sita from her Vatika hut he was educated and civilised and so he accepted Sita’s refusal of marriage. However now he had another problem, it was his pride and he didn’t want to return Sita back to Rama. He wanted to keep her against her will in his palace gardens and so he made her another Vatika palace there so that she wouldn’t miss her own Vatika hut in the jungle. He gave her maids and servants to make exotic foods, gave her lovely clothes but she just wasn’t interested. She simply wanted to be back with her husband Rama. She was very upset and crying all the time.
Well on the other side when Rama and Lakshman came back home to their jungle Vatika hut they couldn’t find Sita anywhere so they started searching for her everywhere in the jungle.
Then they came across a monkey king who ruled over all the monkeys in the jungle and he told Rama that the king Ravana had taken away Sita to his kingdom across the seas. Then Rama and an army of monkeys with the help of Hanuman built a bridge across the sea to go and get Sita back. There was a big battle between Rama and king Ravana, during which Rama’s brother Lakshman got badly injured and was on his last breadths. The doctor said he could only be cured by a magical herbal tree called Sanjivani which grew on a certain mountain Dronagiri in the Himalayas.
Hanuman the monkey king wanted to help and he flew to the mountain where the tree was and he brought it just in time so the doctor could make the herbal potion to cure Lakshman.
That herbal tree is what we call the Diwali Tree, for us a Bay tree which is ever green all year round and it’s good for us, we can grow it, water it, and let Mums and Dads use its leaves in cooking because herbs are good for our health like the herbal potion brought Lakshman back to life and made him strong again. The Basil herbal tree may be used too which is from the same family of Bay Tree.
By the way Rama rescued Sita from Ravana and then they came back home to their palace and all the people in the city celebrated their coming back from the jungle, where they had an adventurous time too, but now they were back home in their own kingdom and so people welcomed them by lighting lamps and that is why we call that day ‘Diwali or Deepavali’ – which means the ‘lamps lighting day’ – to signify ‘light over darkness’, the good winning over the bad people like Ravana who had done a very bad thing, first to snatch Sita from her own Vatika hut against her will and then to force her to live in his palace garden in a new Vatika palace, all against her will, like a prisoner, when poor Sita had done nothing wrong. That was all very bad.
On Diwali day Hanuman, the monkey king, who was always playful with all the children in King Rama’s kingdom would take the kids on flying trips, he’d give rides on his shoulders and bring them presents from wherever he had gone on his flying trips. The kids loved to play with his long tail too.
On Diwali people thank God for bringing Goodness into their lives, Hindus have done it for about 7000 years since Rama and Sita came home, the Jains have done it since Mahavira was enlightened by God about 2600 years ago on Diwali day and Sikhs celebrate it as ‘Bandi-Chhord’ day because on Diwali day about 400 years ago Guru Hargobind was freed from prison of another bad king’s holding people against their will when they’ve done nothing wrong. So when good things happen people thank God. There is only one God but like we are all different we thank him in many names and forms, as in different religions. In fact Hindus have many Gods but they are all part of the only One God, which people share as many Gods. We have to share everything like we share the one God, we share the Sun, the Air, the Earth and all its trees, which we must look after too. Our Diwali tree is evergreen so we can use it even as Xmas tree and so on every year if we look after it.
Diwali day is a day of family fun & games, gifts, foods, lighting lamps, planting and watering trees especially herbals ones like the Bay Tree, we are launching today as the Diwali Tree.
Anil Bhanot OBE
Founder Trustee Rita Trust
Diwali Tree Launch: Anil Bhanot, who conceptualised the Diwali Tree launching it today, dressed up as Hanuman and sitting in the Hanuman Cave designed by the Little Peepul Day Nursery, together with a forest tree and a golden deer, told the above Diwali story to the children, who later gave him a big thank you and they were seen telling their parents the Diwali message of ‘sharing’ everything, including God.