Narak Chaturdashi is a part of Diwali, and it is celebrated one day prior to it. People in India have different names for Narak Chaturdashi, and so we know this festival as Roop Chaudas, Bhoot Chaturdashi, Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi, and Chotti Diwali.
Narak Chaturdashi is an important Hindu festival, which is celebrated across the different parts of India. During the time of Choti Diwali, people decorate their houses with colourful lights and diyas. Some of them also perform pujas at their office to earn desired profit for the next year. People wear new clothes and visit a nearby temple to worship Hindu deities. Now let us understand how it is celebrated in the different parts of India.
This Hindu festival falls on Chaturdashi of the Krishna Paksha as per the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar in the month of Ashvin. According to the Hindu mythology, on this day a demon, Narakasura was killed by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. This festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. In fact, every region has a different set of religious practices to celebrate this festival.
There are various stories around Narak Chaturdasi, but majorly this festival revolves around worshipping Mahakali or Shakti. In some region of Southern India, this festival is also known as Deepavali Bhogi.
This festival has some simple to austerious rituals, varying from region to region; but most of the rituals are followed after early morning oil baths, decoration of the place of worship and offering naivedya, followed by Puja.
The story of Narakasura:
Narakasura, the asura son of earth goddess Bhudevi and Varaha (Vishnu) was blessed with a long life from his father Vishnu. He was a cruel Asura king and misused the powers that used to torture people. He defeated the Gods and had imprisoned around sixteen thousand women. He did so as he was told that only a woman could kill him. He also stole the earrings of Aditi (the mother of the Gods).
The Gods decided that they must inform the Lord Krishna about the atrocities of Narakasura.Narakasura, the asura son of earth goddess Bhudevi and Varaha (Vishnu) was blessed with a long life from his father Vishnu. Unable to bear the sufferings the people, as well as the other celestial beings, pleaded Satyabhama for help.
When Lord Krishna came to know what Narakasura was up to. He decided that the time has come to challenge him into a battle. Lord Krishna asks his wife Satyabhama, who is the incarnation of Bhumi Devi to come along with him for the battlefield. Satyabhama as the incarnation of Bhudevi, is the only one who can kill Narakasura. She agreed and joined her husband willingly as she had to play an important role in this fierce battle.
There was a mountain range that protected the palace of the Narakasura. Lord Krishna shattered the whole mountain range and made way to the palace of Narakasura. There were many more mystical barriers that Krishna had to break before he entered the palace of Narakasura.
After the demise of Mura, Narakasura came out to fight with Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna had become a little weak by all the battle that he fought so long. He fainted while fighting Narakasura.
When Satyabhama saw this she took the place of Lord Krishna and she kills Narakasura with bow and arrow. This was because Narakasura had a boon that only a woman could kill him. All the women who were taken captive by the cruel king were made free.
On the day Narak Chaturdashi, people remember Goddess Lakshmi or Yamraj and organize puja to worship them. There is a strong belief that if you succeed in pleasing Yamraj, then you may escape from premature death. People lit up diyas for their better health and longevity on this day. At night, many people keep colourful diyas outside their main entrance.
It is said that Lord Krishna had an oil bath to rid himself of the blood-spattered on his body when Naraksura was killed. Hence people observe this day as ‘Abhyang Snan’.
Celebration amongst different parts of country
Tamilians observe this festival as “nombu” and perform Lakshmi Puja on this day. Whereas in Karnataka, Narak Chaturdashi marks the beginning of Deepavali which extends till Bali Padyami.
In some part of Goa, Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated by making paper effigies of Narakasura filled with dried grass and firecrackers, which are created and burnt as a symbol of burning the evil. After burning these effigies, people return home to take scented oil bath and perform rituals.
To mark the victory of good over evil a bitter berry, which is often called as kareet is crushed under the feet and lamps are lit everywhere to celebrate the festival.
Devotees of West Bengal perform Durga Puja to appease Goddess Kali on this special day. Generally, Bengalis call Narak Chaturdashi the ‘Bhoot Chaturdashi’. They believe that ghosts or evil forces can roam freely around the Earth during these times, so they lit up 14 diyas outside their home entrance to get rid of them. On the occasion of Bhoot Chaturdashi, people also have different types of green saags.
Well, festivals in India are incomplete without good food, and so is Narak Chaturdashi. As per the traditions after all the rituals, the day starts with a special lavish breakfast which includes some interesting recipes.
Here are some of them:
Nothing beats the taste of this delicacy when it prepared with the flattened rice, coconut, curry leaves and southern spices and garnished with grated coconut. This sumptuous dish is light on stomach as well as satitiating. It makes for a perfect healthy breakfast delicacy and can be paired with other savouries to make it an interesting meal.
These spiral snacks are perfect binge-worthy delights and taste best when served with a nice breakfast platter and a hot cup of tea or coffee. This crunchy-munchy snack can be served with coconut chutney to accentuate the food experience.
Another most commonly prepared delicacy for this festival is shankarapali, which is nothing but the famous shakarpara. It can be prepared with the goodness of sugar or jaggery, this sweet delight needs no introduction and its crispness makes it even more delightful.
There are a variety of ladoos prepared during the festive season and every region has something unique. In South India, there a variety of ladoos prepared for the festivals like coconut ladoo( nariyal ladoo), minappa sunnundalu, kudumullu.
This auspicious day signifies ‘Good always wins’. The story of Narakasur is evidence of this. Goddess Kali blessings on Kali Chaudas ensures protection from all negative energies and victory over enemies.