The Diwali Festival is a five-day celebration of the Hindus that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. During this five-day occasion, other festivities are also celebrated. The second day of the Diwali is the celebration of the Kartik or the Narak Chaturdashi. It is also known as Chhoti Diwali. During this commemoration, the people light diyas in their homes and worship the Goddess Laxmi.
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Second Day of Diwali – Chhoti Diwali
This event on the second day of the Diwali did not just happen without any significance. This has been celebrated in honor of the defeat of a demon king. Actually, this Chhoti Diwali is said to have two origins. The first one can be traced on the defeat of King Narakasur and the second one is about Lord Vishnu saving the Devatas.
King Narakasur and the Lord Krishna’s Wife
In a province south of Nepal, there was a ruler who had been loathed by his enemies. King Narasakur is the demon king of Pragjyotishpur who defeated Lord Indra. Aside from this, he snatched away the precious earrings of the ruler of Suraloka, Mother Goddess Aditi. On the gods and saints’ doom, he also imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the gods and saints in his harem. Despite his conquests, he was cursed to die in the hands of a woman.
Upon learning what the evil king had done, Satyabhama, the wife of Lord Krishna who happens to be a relative of Mother Goddess Aditi got furious. She asked her husband to bless her and give her the strength to be able to kill Narakasur. Lord Krishna graced her request. He even became the charioteer of her Ratha in the battlefield. Satyabhama beheaded Narakasur and had recovered the precious earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi. The women also were released from Narakasur’s harem. In order to save the women from embarrassment, Lord Krishna made them all his wives and took them home with him.
The demon king was killed the day before the Narak Chaturdashi. As a symbol of the victorious quest, Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the demon king’s blood. Early morning of Narak Chaturdashi, Lord Krishna went home together with his new wives. The women gave him a good bath to remove the filth from his body and massaged him with scented oil. Bhoodevi, the mother of Narakasur, declared that the death of her son should not be a day of mourning. Instead, it should be a day to celebrate with joy. Since then, people celebrate this event with fun every year.
King Bali’s reward
Another legend that has been said to be the origin of Chhoti Diwali is King Bali’s chastisement by Lord Vishnu. King Bali was the king of the nether world. His power and increasing influence served as a threat to the security of the Devatas. In order to escape the ruling of King Bali, the Devatas prayed to Lord Vishnu. He granted their wish and went to help them. He disguised himself as Brahmin, a short-height incarnation of Batu Waman. He begged King Bali to give him the land he is able to cover within three steps. Because he is just a short man asking for a small piece of land, King Bali granted his request with such pride. Upon the grant of his request, the short man disappeared and in his place stood the mighty Lord Vishnu. He took back his original form.
On his first step, he covered the heaven. On his second step, he had covered the earth. Because he had covered almost everything, he does not know where else to put his third step. Realizing what happened, King Bali offered Lord Vishnu his head to step on. Lord Vishnu did push him deep unto the ground. But the generosity of King Bali was well-noted by Lord Vishnu so he gave him the lamp of knowledge. Aside from this, he was also allowed to return to earth once a year to light thousands of lamps. This has been the start of the tradition of lighting of lamps during the Chhoti Diwali.
Tradition of Chhoti Diwali
Early in the morning of the Narak Chaturdashi, people break a bitter fruit and apply Ubtan, or the kumkum-oil paste, on their foreheads. After this, they then take a bath. The breaking of the bitter fruit represents the beheading of the demon king Narakasur while the kumkum-oil paste signifies the blood of Narakasur that Lord Krishna smeared on his forehead.
In the state of Maharashtra, people take the traditional bath after the paste of gram flour, fragrant powders and scented oils are applied on their foreheads. While the traditional bath is taking place, explosion of firecrackers and fireworks are heard to make the children enjoy their baths. At dusk, people light diyas and candles, and place them around their house. This attests to their belief that King Bali has returned to earth to light again the lamps. This traditions mark the celebration of the Chhoti Diwali.