(Last Updated on : 21/10/2014)
Narak Chaturdashi is a famous Hindu festival
which is observed on the second day of Diwali
and is also referred to as 'Choti Diwali' in northern parts of India and 'Kali
Chaidas' in Rajasthan
and various portions of Maharashtra
. Since 'Kali' implies 'dark' or eternal and 'chaudas' means 'fourteenth', Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated with great pomp during the 14th day of the Kartik
Mahakali or 'Shakt
i' is worshipped along with all the necessary rituals
on the day of the Kali Chaudas and it is said that on this very day 'Narakasura
' was killed by the powerful Goddess Mahakali. Narak Chaturdashi is also termed as Kali Chaudas and symbolises the elimination of all forms of evils and laziness which cause several complications in human lives, such that ultimately truth is revealed and guidance is shone upon humans.
History of Narak Chaturdashi
There are different legends which trace the origin of the festival of Narak Chaturdashi. One of them states that Narak Chaturdashi is held to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna
over 'Narakasura', the demon king. Hindu
s believe that the then king of Pragjyotishpur named Narakasur had defeated Lord Indra
, seizes the holy earrings of the Mother of all Gods
and even had captured the 16, 000 daughters of the saints
s', throwing them into the prisons of his harem. Lord Krishna had killed Narakasura the day prior to Narak Chaturdashi and restored the precious earrings of Aditi, besides freeing all the imprisoned daughters. The act represents the triumph of good over evil.
Another legendary tale claims that King Bali
is connected to this festival
, who had once emerged as the most powerful king on earth as he had been capable of capturing and conquering every inch of the entire world. Thus, haughtiness overcame his emotions and he started to feel he was indestructible and nothing on earth could impact his grand accumulation of wealth and resources. He insulted anyone who begged alms from him. Lord Vishnu
decided to teach him a lesson and approached Bali's kingdom in guise of a beggar. When he asked the king to grant him some alms, the king arrogantly replied everything on earth belonged to him. Lord Vishnu placed his first foot in the heavens, his second feet on the entire portion of earth and finally Bali offered his head on which Lord Vishnu stepped upon, which helped him attain spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, Narak Chaturdashi spreads the message of erasing all kinds of greed to achieve divine enlightenment.
Rituals of Narak Chaturdashi
Narak Chaturdashi's Puja
is practised with the aide of sandalwood, flowers
and oil and coconut
s are dedicated to Lord Hanuman
, apart from rice
flakes or 'poha
' with sugar
', sesame seeds and jaggery. Such rites are slightly similar to those followed during Diwali. Various kinds of delicious food
stuffs are cooked with Poha or half-cooked rice and this ritual is common on western India and also rural India.
During the festive day, application of 'kajal' is necessary, as well as performing ahead wash in order to avert the evil eye or the 'kali nazar'. Some people assert that 'tantriks' learn brand new 'mantras
' on this day and others are of the view that 'Nivet' is respectfully offered to please their 'Kul Devi
' who is believed to protect them from the evil spirits. Several families offer food to their departed ancestors on this very day.
Hindus awake at a much earlier time than regular days on the day of Narak Chaturdashi festival. Men massage their bodies with fragrant oils prior to bathing and clad themselves in clean or new garments. People relish delectable breakfasts along with family members and friends and engage in sending off bright fireworks into the sky during the evening. At midday, various delicious sweets
are prepared and the homes are beautifully adorned with oil lamps in the evening. Paper-crafted effigies of Narakasura are manufactured in Goa
, with the help of grass and firecrackers which are burnt the next morning. The womenfolk
of the household perform 'aarti
' of the men, crush 'kareet' under their feet and exchange gifts. The crushing of fruits under the feet signifies the abolition of all kinds of evilness.