The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdashi, which is popularly known as Choti Diwali. Narak Chaturdashi is the celebration of Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon, King Narakasura. People light up their homes with diyas and play with firecrackers. It falls on the day before Amavasya and Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped to mark this auspicious occasion. It is called Choti Diwali because of the scale of festivities as compared to the main Diwali celebrations. All homes are beautified with colors and vibrancy as women display their skills by creating colorful rangolis. Read on below to know about the legends of Choti Diwali and the rituals associated with its celebration.
Legends of Choti Diwali
The most famous legend about Narak Chaturdashi is Narakasura, the son of Bhudevi and the Varaha Avataar of Lord Vishnu. While, in some other sources he is said to be the son of the demon, Hiranyaksha. Narakasura, who was exceptionally barmy after power, took control of both earth and heaven. Narakasura abducted about 16000 women and kept them in his palace, and also stole the earrings of the mother Goddess Aditi. All the Devas had no choice but to flee away from Narakasura, and request Lord Vishnu save both the worlds from the reign of Narakasura. Lord Krishna obliged and went to battle with Narakasura. Lord Krishna was accompanied by his wife Satyabhama.
Since Narakasura had the boon that he could be killed by only his mother, it was not possible for Lord Krishna to kill him. Ultimately he was killed by Satyabhama, who was the incarnation of Narakasura’s mother Bhudevi. As a mark of the victory, Lord Krishna smeared his head with the blood of Narakasura. The women abducted by Narakasura were released and Lord Krishna accepted all of them as his wives. Lord Krishna returned and reached home in the wee hours of the morning. He was massaged with scented oil and given a bath by the women to wash away the dirt from his body. The mother of Narakasura, Bhudevi announced that the death of her son should be celebrated as the victory of good over evil rather than spend the day in remorse.
The story of King Bali is another tale linked with the celebration of Choti Diwali. King Bali, though generous, was a very ambitious and powerful king. His increasing powers created fear and concern among the Devtas and hence, they went to Lord Vishnu to seek his help. To help the Devtas, Lord Vishnu took the form a dwarf priest and went to the court of King Bali. He begged King Bali to give him a piece of land which he could cover in three strides. The unsuspecting Bali immediately obliged and at that very moment the dwarf Brahmin took his original form of Lord Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu kept growing bigger and bigger and covered both, the earth and heaven, in two steps. Lord Vishnu asked Bali, where he would put his third step and at this, King Bali humbly kneeled down and offered his head to place the third step. Though he was sent to the underworlds, but Lord Vishnu, impressed with King Bali’s generosity, gave him the lamp of knowledge and allowed him to come to earth once in a year to light the millions of diyas on Choti Diwali.
Choti Diwali Celebrations - Narak Chaturdashi
In South India, a ritual of waking up early before sunrise is practiced. People break a bitter fruit and apply Ubtan on their foreheads and then go for a bath. The fruit represents the head of Narakasura while the paste applied on the forehead symbolizes the blood that Lord Krishna had smeared on his forehead. In Maharashtra, people take a holy bath early in the morning after applying a paste of gram flour, fragrant powder and oil on their forehead. And by evening, diyas are lit everywhere, in and around the house.