The festival of Narak Chaturdashi falls on the second day of the five-day long Diwali celebrations, all over India. This festival is also known with the names of 'Choti Diwali' in North India and 'Kali Chaudas' in Gujarat, Rajasthan and few parts of Maharashtra. It is observed on the fourteenth day of the month of Kartik (October - November). This year Narak Chaturdashi is on 22 October.
History of Narak Chaturdashi
This festival commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over Naraksur, the Demon King. Hanuman Jayanti or the birthday of Lord Hanuman is also celebrated on this day. Along with this, Kali Chaudas also worships Maha kali or Shakti, who symbolizes strength to fight evil.
Victory of Lord Krishna over Naraksur
According to ancient legend, the festival of Narak Chaturdasi ascribes itself to the story of Lord Krishna's victory over the demon king, Narakasur. It is believed that Narakasur, who was the ruler of Pragjyotishpur, defeated Lord Indra and subsequently snatched away the magnificent earrings of Aditi, Mother of gods, along with imprisoning sixteen thousand daughters of gods and saints in his harem.
The day before Nakar Chaturdashi, Lord Krishna killed this demon and rescued all imprisoned damsels along with recovering the precious earrings of Aditi. This act was seen as a moral victory of good over evil.
Legend of King Bali
Another story that popular tradition attributes to the celebration of this festival is that of King Bali. He had become the most powerful king on Earth, through conquering every bit of space. His arrogance led him to believe that nothing could hamper his wealth. He would create a show of charity, by hurling insults and humiliation at all those went to seek alms from him. In order to strip him off his arrogance, Lord Vishnu went to his kingdom under the guise of a beggar.
On being demanded by the king to ask for anything in his kingdom in three steps, Vishnu covered the entire heaven with his first step, entire earth with his second and shattered the vain pride of the king. Bali, then offered the Lord his head to place his third step upon, which led to him receiving spiritual enlightenment. Thus, Narak Chaturdashi is a festival that preaches the message of eliminating greed and attaining spiritual knowledge.
Celebration of Nakar Chaturdashi
Nakar Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali is celebrated with a strong practice of rituals. On this day, people wake up earlier than usual, rub their bodies with perfumed oils before bathing and attire themselves into clean or new clothes.
Special dishes are prepared and enjoyed all day long with friends and relatives. Sweets are distributed. Delicacies such as laddus, chaklis, sakkaparas, badam halwa are enjoyed. Women wash their hair and apply kajal in their eyes, as it is believed to keep away evil eye from these religious ceremonies. Nived (food) is offered to the goddess that is local to every family respectively.
This goddess is called 'Kul Devi' and is believed to cast off evil spirits. Food is also offered to forefathers on this day by some people. People decorate their homes by spotlessly cleaning them in order to welcome the Godess Lakshmi on the next day into their homes and lives. Decorative rangolis adorn most houses. In the evening, people burst crackers and fireworks along with lightning their houses with oil lamps.
In various parts of India, Chhoti Diwali is celebrated in various ways:
- In Goa, Naraka Chaturdashi is celebrated with creation of effigies of the demon, Narkasura. These are then paraded through the streets and are eventually burnt down, to symbolize victory of good over evil.
- In south India, people prepare a paste of kumkum and oil, called Ubtan, which they apply on their foreheads before taking their bath. Ubtan symbolizes the blood that lord Krishna smeared on his forehead on his victory.
- In western India, this festival also marks the harvest season. On this day, delicacies are prepared from pounded semi-cooked rice called poha or pova. This rice is taken from fresh harvest. In Bengal, this day is celebrated as 'Kali Chaudas' and is celebrated as the birthday of Maa kali. The idols of Maa Kali are set up in pandals and kali Puja is performed. Poojan is performed with oil, flowers and Chandan. Offering of coconuts are made to Lord Hanuman. Prashad is made with sesame seed, Brigadoon , rice, sugar and ghee in some parts.
When is Narak Chaturdashi?
Following is a calendar of dates on which Chhoti Diwali will fall in the next 10 years.
Last Updated on : September 15, 2014