The resplendent festival of Diwali brings with it a plethora of exuberating and vibrant festivals, including Choti Diwali, traditionally known as Narak Chaturdashi. It is a significant Indian festival, which is a part of the five days of Diwali festivities. This wonderful festival is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the Hindi month of Kartik, just a day before the grand Deepavali celebrations. This day, as its popular name Choti Diwali suggests, sees much revelry and seems more like a dress rehearsal of Deepavali. On this day, people light lamps, wear new cloths, and worship deities, especially Goddess Laxmi and Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. However, all this is done on a much smaller scale than extravagant celebrations that one can see on the actual day of Deepavali. Like most other Hindu festivals, Narak Chaturdashi also has a couple of fascinating legends that explain its origins and some special rituals that people of different regions of India perform on this day. Continue surfing through the segment below to know about the details of Choti Diwali.
Legends of Narak Chaturdashi
As per one of the Hindu mythological legends, it is believed that it was on this day that Lord Krishna, along with his wife Satyabhama, destroyed a demon named Narakasura, the evil king of Pragjyotishpur, who was vengeful as well as a sinful soul. Legend has it that Lord Krishna's wife, moved by the plight of this demon's subjects and 16,000 women that he had forcefully abducted, prayed to the Lord that he grant her the power to subdue and kill this demon, who had gained this boon from the Gods that he could only be killed by a woman. Thus, Krishna empowered Satyabhama and became her charioteer in the battle that ensued between her and the demon. She succeeded in vanquishing the demon a day before Narak Chaturdashi and set free the women from the bondage of the demon.
To protect the honor of these women and to give them a respectable position in the society, Lord Krishna granted all 16,000 of them the status of his wives. As a mark of victory, Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the demons blood and on the early morning of Narak Chaturdashi, he returned home with his wives. To show their gratitude towards him, the women massaged him with scented oil and bathed him so that the grime of the battlefield is washed away. It was on this day that Narakasura's mother, Bhoodevi, declared that her son's death is not an occasion of mourning but indeed should be celebrated as a day of victory of good over evil. Thus, as per the legend, since that day, people celebrate this day by lighting lamps and bursting firecrackers.
King Bali's Legend
According to another legend associated with this day, Lord Vishnu, at the request of 'Devatas' who were threatened by the ever growing power, prestige and ambition of King Bali, took the form of a dwarf Brahmin. Lord Vishnu, in his incarnation as 'Batu Waman', asked Bali for land that he could cover with his three strides. As soon as Bali gave his word in affirmative, Lord Vishnu took his true form and became huge. In his first two steps itself, he covered the entire earth and heaven. Seeing no place for the Lord to place his third step, Bali offered his own head and soon as the Lord placed his foot on Bali's head, he was pushed forever into the underground. However, touched by King Bali's true generous spirit, Lord Vishnu granted him the lamp of knowledge and the boon that every year on this day, he could visit the earth's surface and illuminate thousands of lamps.
Celebrations of Narak Chaturdashi
This day is celebrated in various ways throughout India. In southern India, people, on this day, wake up very early in the morning, sometimes at 2.00 am, to take the ritualistic bath. Before taking the bath, they apply a paste of kumkum and oil, known as Ubtan, on their foreheads, which symbolizes the blood of Narkasura that Lord Krishna smeared on his forehead. People also crush bitter fruit with their feet on this day to symbolize the demon's death. In Maharashtra, Ubtan of gram flour and fragrant powders, mixed with oil, is applied on the forehead before early morning bath. Plenty of firecrackers are burst during this time so that the children enjoy the bathing ritual. However, in Bengal, this day is celebrated as Kali Chaudas, since it is believed that Ma Kali appeared on earth on this day. Here, various pandals with grand Kali idols are setup and prayers are offered to honor the Goddess.