Significance of Narak Chaturdashi
Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated on the 14th day of Krishna Paksha and is also called Chhoti Diwali in the Northern region of India. It marks the death of demon Narakasura and the main ritual is to light Diyas (oil lamps) everywhere around. This signifies the light prevailing over darkness and brings riches to home. Abhyanga Snaan is also an important ritual performed on this day. It is to be done before sunrise in presence of the moon during the Chaturdashi. Applying oil and Ubtan on the body right before taking bath is known as Abhyanga Snaan. It keeps diseases and viruses away and makes the skin more glowing.
In some areas, this day i.e. the Chaturdashi of Krishna Paksha in Kartik month is celebrated as Kali Chaudas. It has different rituals than Narak Chaturdashi which involves the worship of Goddess Kali. This strengthens weak Rahu on the birth chart and brings blessings. Prayers are offered to Lord Hanuman as well on Kali Chaudas. It is said that wearing Kajal or Kohl in eyes on this occasion wards off evil. Also, Bengali communities observe this day as Bhoot Chaturdashi. They light lamps in a home in the memory of their ancestors. Placing the Diyas in the home is considered to be auspicious. Goa enjoys the festival by making large statues of Narakasura with firecrackers inside. These statues are later lit and everyone watches the bursting of beautiful firecrackers that symbolizes the burning of evil. Visiting temples is also a good practice to follow this day.
Naraka Chaturdashi Story
The story begins with the demon Narakasura, son of Lord Varaha and Goddess Bhudevi. Although he was born to Lord Varaha, he was malicious, greedy, and violently destroying everything. He was blessed with a boon by Lord Brahma that if he were to die, he could be only killed by his own mother Bhudevi. With this power, he felt unbeatable and attempted to attack Lord Krishna. Angered by this, Satyabhama (Lord Krishna’s wife) who was an avatar of Bhudevi killed him.
Since Narakasura wanted to be immortal and live in people’s memories, he begged in front of Satyabhama to fulfill his wish. He wanted to always stay alive and celebrated by people by lighting Diyas (oil lamps) in his memory. It became a tradition since then to light lamps on Naraka Chaturdashi.
There is another story that states Lord Krishna killed Narakasura. The demon held 16,000 girls as hostages and that is why Lord Krishna destroyed him. Those girls were ashamed and worried about social exclusion. So, Krishna and His consort Satyabhama decided that Krishna Bhagwan will marry them. The world then knew them as Lord Krishna’s wives as they were given a status in the community.
Narak Chaturdashi Puja Vidhi
- Wake up before sunrise and apply oil & Ubtan on the body before bathing.
- While bathing, rotate the Apamarg twigs seven times over your head and recite the Naraka Chaturdashi Prarthana Mantra:
Hara Papamapamarga! Bhramyamanah Punah॥
- Now take bath with clean water and offer some water with sesame seeds to Lord Yama.
- Light oil lamps (Diyas) in the puja altar and everywhere in the home including the entrance.
- In the evening, stand facing towards the South direction and light a Diya revering Lord Yama and asking for forgiveness for bad Karma or sins.
- After this, light a Diya in the name of your ancestors while facing the same direction.
- Also, worship Lord Krishna as per proper rituals.
- Now keep the Yam Deepak near the main entrance of your home and donate a lamp to any poor person.
- At midnight, discard the useless items from home and keep them outside. This removes the poverty from home.
The above-mentioned Puja Vidhi may vary as per the communities and regions in India.
What to do and what not to do on Naraka Chaturdashi?
- Wear new bright clothes to attract prosperity and opulence in life.
- Clean the house and keep the surroundings tidy.
- Make Rangoli near the threshold and entrance of the home, office, shop, etc., to invite positive energies.
- Prepare traditional sweets and savories at home.
- Offer homemade sweets to the God idols on the puja altar.
- Donate a Diya (oil lamp) to a poor person after your puja rituals.
- Decorate your house with traditional flower hangings and Diyas (oil lamps).
- Do take a ritualistic bath (Abhyanga Snaan) with the Ubtan mixture.
- Remove useless and broken objects from the house to get rid of poverty.
- One should not step on any food or black dolls thrown away at crossroads. This is because some people may perform black magic or other rites to cast off the evil eye.
- Do not create fights with anyone on this day
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