Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated on the second day of Diwali festival, just one day before the main Diwali celebrations. The day is popularly known as Chhoti Diwali. Read more about the festival.
Diwali is a five day festival, which brings a chain of festivals with it. One after another we get a chance to celebrate five festivals together.
First day of Diwali is celebrated as Dhanteras. Second day is commonly known as Chhhoti (Small) Diwali. The day is celebrated with same zeal and joy as the main Diwali but it is on comparatively lower scale. Just like diwali people light diyas on chhoti diwali to fill their homes with light, worship Goddess Laxmi, burst firecrackers but all these things are not as grand as they are on the day of main diwali.
Narak Chaturdashi – The Significance
Narak Chaturdashi = Narak + Chaturdashi (Fourteenth) = The day when Demon Narakasura was slayed by Lord Krishna, falls on the 14th day of the month of Kartik (Oct – Nov).
Interestingly, Bhumi, the mother of Demon Narakasura, declared that the death of his son Narakasura should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate. Hence the second day of five days Diwali festival is celebrated as the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura. The day is known as Chhoti Diwali (Small Diwali) with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst.
Customs Followed On Narak Chaturdashi
People wake up early before sunrise and break any bitter fruit and apply the kumkum and Til (sesame) oil paste, which is called ‘Ubtan’, on their foreheads and then take bath using sandalwood paste. The breaking of the fruit represents the head of the demon King, Narakasura and the kumkum-oil paste symbolizes the blood that Lord Krishna smeared on his forehead. The bath is known as Abhayanga Snaan. It is believed that people, who do Abhyang Snan on this day, can avoid going to Narak.
In Maharashtra also, people take early bath with oil and ubtan (paste of gram flour and fragrant powders).
All through the ritual of baths, deafening sounds of crackers and fireworks are there in order that the children enjoy bathing. Afterward steamed vermicelli with milk and sugar or puffed rice with curd is served.
Goddess Kali Worship
On the same Hindu tithi, Narak Chaturdashi and Kali Chaudas collides on the same day. Depending upon the festival timing, both festivals may fall on two consecutive days.
In Bengal and east India, the day is celebrated as birthday of Goddess Kali. On this day, the idol of Goddess Kali is set up in a big ground. People gather and Kali puja is performed.
Chhoti Diwali Celebration
People create Rangoli on the floor. At dusk, Diyas and candles are lit in the house to mark the celebration of Chhoti Diwali. On this day, people also burst firecrackers but on small scale compare to main Diwali.
Goddess Laxmi Worship
As Diwali is the significance of Prosperity, in some of the regions, people worship Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and propsperity.
Narak Chaturdashi – Stories
Lord Krishna Destroyed Demon Narakasura
Narakasura was the king of Pragjyotisha, identified with present-day Assam. He was the demon son of Vishnu’s avatar Varaha and the earth-goddess Bhumi (Prithvi). He conquered the three worlds: heaven, earth and underworld. On earth, he captured 16100 princesses of defeated nations.
The captive women were imprisoned at Audaka on the top of the mountain Maniparvata in his kingdom. Indra came to Dwarka, requesting Krishna, to save the universe from Narakasura’s terror. Krishna and his second wife Satyabhama flew on Garuda to Pragjyotisha. Krishna slayed Narakasura and rescued the captive women.
On this day Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and liberated the 16,100 princesses the demon held captive. Know more here
Vamana, The Incarnation Of Lord Vishnu Killed King Bali
Here is another story about King Bali of Treta Yuga. By conquering all space of the universe, Bali became very powerful and started terrifying Devaloka. All Deva (Gods) prayed Lord Vishnu to help them out.
To help Gods, Lord Vishnu went to King Bali in the form of a dwarf Brahmin Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Vamana begged Bali to give him three paces of land. Seeing miniature Brahmin, Bali agreed to give Vamana what he asked for. The dwarf then changed his size to that of a giant.
In his first step, he covered the heaven and in the second step the earth and asked King Bali where to put his third step. Bali understood that Dwarf Vamana is none other than Lord Vishnu. He offered his head to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu put his third step on his head and pushed him deep into the underground. Pleased with his generosity Lord Vishnu gave King Bali the lamp of knowledge and allowed him to return to earth once a year to light millions of lamps.