Deepavali is a festival of lights. There are various stories associated with Deepavali. Some hold that it marks the celebration of the wedding of Lord Vishnu and Mahalakshmi; another view is that it commemorates the returning of Sri Rama to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana; the third most popular view is that Sathyabhama on of the consort of Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasura who is said to be her own son. Sathyabhama who is the incarnation of Mother Earth, blessed a boon to her son, stating that people on the earth would celebrate the day he was killed as Naraka Chathurdasi, by taking oil-bath, putting on new clothes and having a sumptuous feast.
It is also believed that on the Deepavali day, goddess Mahalakshmi descends to the earth and visits every home and that people make preparations to welcome her in the most appropriate manner. In India before dawn everyone gets up and have a good oil-bath. It is believed that goddess Lakshmi is present in the oil used and that mother Ganga makes her presence in the water used for bath. The oil-bath is, therefore, called Gangasnanam. This is a day of very great importance to the business community. They close their yearly accounts on this day, considering it as the last day of the commercial year. All shops are cleaned, decorated and illuminated. New account books are opened with a ceremonial worship of Goddess Lakshmi.
The Jains believe that it was on the Deepavali day that Mahavira, their principle Thirthankara, shed his mortal coils with which departed the light of knowledge from the earth. Jains celebrate Deepavali by lighting lamp in a row to mark of respect to Mahavira.