While many legends are associated with the festival (Narakasura, Bali, Lakshmi, Kali), the most common narrative atleast in North India is that it marks the return of Lord Rama after his great Lankan victory
Was he stoic? Was he indifferent? Was he excited?
He is not jaded by his own perfection. Far from it.
He in fact embraces his own humanity
We might think that Rama, being divine, would sit serenely without betraying emotion. But that's hardly the case
कैलासशिखराकारे त्रिकूटशिखरे स्थिताम् |
लङ्कामीक्षस्व वैदेहि निर्मितान् विश्वकर्मणा ||
हरीणान् राक्षसानान् च सीते विशसनं महत् ||
"O Seetha! Look at this great battle-field, covered with a mud of flesh and blood as also a cause for the death of monkeys and demons."
तव हेतोर्विशालाक्षि रावणो निहतो मया ||
"O the large-eyed Seetha! Here lies Ravana, the king of demons, the tormentator of people, on whom boons were conferred by Brahma and who was killed by me for your sake."
धूम्राक्षश्चात्र निहतो वानरेण हनूमता ||
"Here, Kumbhakarna and Prahasta the demon were killed. Here, Dhumraksha was killed by Hanuma, the monkey."
लक्ष्मणेनेन्द्रजिच्चात्र रावणिर्निहतो रणे ||
"Here was Vidyunmali killed by the great-souled Sushena and here was Indrajit, the son of Ravana, killed by Lakshmana in a combat."
निकुम्भश्चैव कुम्भश्च कुम्भकर्णात्मजौ बली || ६-१२३-१०
वज्रदंष्ट्रश्च दंष्ट्रश्च बहवो राक्षसा हताः |
मकराक्ष्च दुर्धर्षो मया युधि निपातितः ||
एतत्तु दृश्यते तीर्थन् समुद्रस्य वरानने || ६-१२३-१५
यत्र सागरमुत्तीर्य तान् रात्रिमुषिता वयम् |
"O Seetha, the lovely-faced one! Here is seen a water-descent of the ocean on the sea-shore, where having crossed the ocean, we spent that night."
तवहेतोर्विशालाक्षि नलसेतुः सुदुष्करः |
"O the large-eyed Seetha! Here is the bridge called Nala Setu, which was so difficult to execute for others, got built by me over the salt-sea for your sake."
Rama is still very keen to share! He doesn't slouch in a corner and rest.
दृश्यतेअसौ महान्सीते सविद्युदिव तोयदः || ६-१२३-३८
ऋश्यमूको गिरिश्रेष्ठः काञ्चनैर्धातुभिर्वृतः |
"O Seetha! Here is seen Rishyamuka, the excellent mountain, endowed with layers of gold and looking like a cloud with lightning."
त्वया विहीनो यत्राहन् विललाप सुदुःखितः |
"Here is seen Pampa-river, abounding in lotuses and edged with colourful groves, where I lamented with great pain, having been separated from you."
अत्र योजनबाहुश्च कबन्धो निहतो मया |
"The virtuous Shabari was seen by me at the bank of this river. Here was killed, Kabandha, having arms, a Yojana (eight miles) long."
यत्र युद्धं महद्वृत्तन् तवहेतोर्विलासिनि |
रावणेन हतो यत्र पक्षिणां प्रवरो बली ||
""And over there is seen in the forest of Janasthana, O Seetha, that illustrious tree under which the highly brilliant and mighty Jatayu, the foremost among the birds, was killed by Ravana, for your sake, O sporting lady!."
"एषा सा दृश्यतेअयोध्या राजधानी पितुर्मम ||
अयोध्यान् कुरु वैदेहि प्रणामं पुनरागता |
"O Seetha! Here is seen that Capital City of my father. O the princess of Videha territory! Having duly returned, offer your salutation to Ayodhya."
We tend to become jaded as we go through life. We rely a great deal on our powers of "Reason". And in the process, we tend feel ashamed about revealing our softer side.
We end up taking less and less interest in the little things in life
Here was a man, who knew the pangs of separation, and of lost love
There is much we can learn from his humanity.
Here again it is worthwhile noting the exchange between Rama's great brother Bharata and Rama when they meet.
राममासाद्य मुदितः पुनरेवाभ्यवादयत् |
Feeling glad, when lifted on that aerial car and approaching Rama, Bharata of true valour, greeted him yet again
अङ्के भरतमारोप्य मुदितः परिषष्वजे
Fully rising from his seat and placing that Bharata, who was seen after a long time, on his lap, Rama delightfully embraced him
"अब्रवीच्च तदा रामं भरतः स कृताञ्जलिः || ६-१२७-५३
एतत्ते रक्षितं राजन्राज्यं निर्यातितं मया |
यस्त्वां पश्यामि राजानमयोध्यां पुनरागतम्
"My life has accomplished its purpose today and my wish too stands fulfilled, in that I see you, its king, come back to Ayodhya."
भवतस्तेजसा सर्वं कृतं दशगुणं मया |
"You review your treasury, granary, palace of your spirit, everything has been enhanced tenfold by me."
Notice the eagerness to show Rama the outcomes of his personal diligence and austerity over the past 14 years.
The eagerness of a trustee.
These are great individuals who reveal their humanity, and are not ashamed of it.
They are not "smartass" people trying to look "cool".
They are one of us.
Verses that tell us even the greatest among us share much that is in common with much of humanity