Naraka Chaturdashi, falling on October 31 this year, is a Hindu festival celebrated across most of India. Also known as Choti Diwali, it is celebrated on the second day of the five-day-long Diwali festival. Diwali is a five-day festival that begins with Dhanteras and ends with Bhai Dooj. It is also known as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas, or Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi. It is celebrated a day before Lakshmi Puja or Diwali and comes a day after Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi. People get up earlier and celebrate this day with oil baths, ‘pooja’ (worship), and festivals. Firecrackers are also usually lit!
History of Naraka Chaturdashi
Naraka Chaturdashi is a religious festival with a deep meaning. According to Hindu literature, Narakasura — a demon — was killed on this day by Krishna, Satyabhama, and Kali, all divine entities according to the belief. Krishna, one of the most widely revered and most popular of all Hindu divinities, is worshipped as a supreme god. Satyabhama, the fiery wife of Krishna, also helped kill the demon king with whom this day is associated. Kali, which in Sanskrit means “She Who Is Black” or ‘She Who Is Death,” is the goddess of time, doomsday, and death.
In some regions of India, the day is allotted to the worship of Mahakali or Shakti as they believe that Narakasura was killed by Kali on this day. Hence also referred to as Naraka-Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas is a day to abolish laziness and evil which creates hell in human life on Earth. The underlying theme of this simple victory story of good over evil is also the importance of cooperation and collaboration for perfect partnership in a relationship.
On Naraka Chaturdashi’s morning, Abhyang Snan — a holy bath — is taken before the sunrise. Application of kajal in the eyes is believed to keep away the nazar or evil eye. ‘Pooja’ is performed with oil, flowers, and sandalwood. Various dishes are prepared using the rice taken from the fresh harvest available at that time. Prasads — meaning favor or grace — are also made using jaggery, sugar, ghee, and rice flakes. Houses are lit with lamps in the evening.
In some regions like Goa, paper-made effigies of Narakasura filled with firecrackers are made and they are burnt early in the morning. A bitter berry is crushed under the feet signifying the killing of Narakasura by Krishna. It symbolizes evil and the removal of ignorance.
On this day, there are a few messages many people celebrating send to their family and friends. This includes variations of well-wishes of prosperity, happiness, joy, peace, and success. Many also pray for divine guidance towards a happy and healthy life. Naraka Chaturdashi is a reminder that in the end, evil never survives.
Naraka Chaturdashi timeline
India becomes an independent nation, making it a Hindu-majority country separated from Muslim-majority Pakistan
During the medieval period, the rise of devotion to the major Hindu deities was formed, particularly Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi.
From this period experts can recognize many elements in present-day Hinduism, such as bhakti (devotion) and temple worship.
There may be continuities between the Indus Valley civilization, located through present-day Pakistan, and later Hinduism as suggested by the apparent emphasis on ritual bathing, sacrifice, and goddess worship.
Naraka Chaturdashi FAQs
Why is Naraka Chaturdashi celebrated?
In some regions of India, this is the day allotted to worship of certain Hindu deities and the day when many acknowledge the demon Narakasura being defeated. It’s a holy time to abolish laziness and evil.
What should be done on Narak Chaturdashi?
On Naraka Chaturdashi, people wake up early in the morning (before sunrise) and apply ubtan (made up of sesame oil, rose water, Ganga and some crucial elements) on their body and take a holy bath or Abhyanga Snan.
What happens on each day of Diwali?
During the festival, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs illuminate their homes, temples and workspaces with diyas, candles and lanterns Hindus, in particular, have a ritual oil bath at dawn on each day of the festival. Diwali is also marked with fireworks and the decoration of floors with rangoli designs.
How To Celebrate Naraka Chaturdashi
Exchange gifts or sweets
Naraka Chaturdashi is all about wishing people joy and happiness. Gift your loved ones something or even cook some sweet dishes to celebrate the day. Patishapta, for example, is a type of “pitha” which is a scrumptious Bengali sweet dish common in India and Bangladesh prepared primarily during the rice harvesting festivals. These are sweet pancakes which contain a delicious filling of caramelized coconut.
Wear new or fresh clothes
On this day Hindus get up earlier than usual. The men will rub their bodies in perfumed oils before bathing. Afterward, clean clothes are worn and some people wear new ones. A large breakfast is enjoyed with relatives and friends. Even if you are not Indian, you can help celebrate the day with your Indian friends by doing these small but sentimental things.
Wish peace and happiness!
This day marks the triumph of good over evil. This is a sentiment that is quite universal. Even if you’re not Hindu or Indian, wishing well for others on this day is surely going to be appreciated by your friends or acquaintances who celebrate this holiday religiously.
5 Interesting Facts About Naraka Chaturdashi
The second day of the 5-day long Deepavali festivity is celebrated worldwide by Hindus as Naraka Chaturdashi or Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi. The celebration falls exactly on the 14th day of Krushna Paksha of the Ashvin Maas/Month.
As per written in the Hindu legends, evil Narakasur, son of Mother Earth, forcefully ruled several kingdoms brought under his reign. His atrocities were growing with each passing day, leaving the weak to his mercy.
Good always wins
Narakasur was blessed by Lord Brahma, due to which he could be killed by none, but a woman. So, when Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Krishna, he devised a plan to ensure Narakasur in a battle. Lord Krishna rode the mount Garuda as ‘saarthi’, while his wife Satyabhama attacked and killed Narakasur - according to some.
The festivity is celebrated nationwide in a varied manner. Across West Bengal, this day is known as Kali Chaudas; Kali which denotes darkness and chaudas which signifies 14th. In some parts of Kolkata, the stay of Durga Idols is prolonged until today and then is immersed during the night.
Families across Maharashtra, particularly Mumbai and Pune, wake up early before sunrise and begin the day with ‘abhyanga snan’ with 'ubtan'. It is a specially prepared ubtan using chandan, ambe haldi, multani mitti, khus, rose, besan, and more.
Why We Love Naraka Chaturdashi
It’s a reminder of goodness
No matter what religion you are from, or no religion at all, it’s a very human thing to believe in the victory of good over evil. On this day, we remember this sentiment and wish everyone peace and prosperity.
It’s a rich cultural practice
India is known for its rich cultural and religious history and we can only imagine all the nice smells and colors lighting up many families' homes. On this day, take some time out to celebrate with your Hindu friends or relatives.
It’s a time to learn about Hinduism
Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, according to many scholars, with roots and customs dating back more than 4,000 years. With around 900 million followers, it is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam. Take the time to learn about its fascinating history and beliefs.
Naraka Chaturdashi dates