Choti Diwali | Narak Chaturdashi
Choti Diwali also called Naraka Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas is a Hindu festival that falls on Chaturdashi (14th day) of Krishna Paksha in the month of Ashvin. In 2023 Naraka Chaturdashi will be celebrated on Sunday, 12 November.
It is the second day of the five days long Diwali festival. It is believed that on this day Lord Krishna returns home after killing the demon king Narakasur hence also called Naraka Chaturdashi. Krishan has the king’s blood smeared on his forehead and to clean his body, he was bathed in scented oils. Since then, the custom of taking bath before sunrise with scented powder and oil is practiced. On Naraka Chaturdashi, people light lamps and fireworks to drive away from the darkness and bring in the light.
The story behind Narak Chaturdashi
The Katha related to Narak Chaturdashi is ‘The demon king Narakasur ruler of Pragjyotishpur ( a province to the South of Nepal) after defeating Lord Indra had snatched away the magnificent earrings of Aditi, the Mother of the Gods and imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the gods and saints. On the day previous to Narakachaturdashi, Lord Krishna killed the demon and liberated the imprisoned damsels, and also recovered those precious earrings of Aditi. As a symbol of that victory Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the demon king’s blood.
Krishna returned home in the very early morning of the Narakachaturdashi day. The womenfolk massaged scented oil to his body and gave him a good bath to wash away the filth from his body. Since then the custom of taking bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice. In South India, that victory of the divine over the mundane is celebrated in a very peculiar way. People wake up before sunrise prepare blood by mixing Kumkum in oil and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon King that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.
How to celebrate Narak Chaturdashi
The main ritual which people follow on this day is waking up early (before sunrise) and take a holy bath after applying oils and herbs. This was the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna – an incarnation of Vishnu. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities. Hindus wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath, and dress in new clothes. They light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate kolams /rangolis outside their homes. They perform a special puja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day.
It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Ganges. After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicing, many people have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends.