As per the Hindu calendar, Narak Chaturdashi or Chhoti Diwali falls on the 14th day (Chaturdashi) of the Kartik month. It is also known as Kali Chaudas, Narak Chaudas, Roop Chaturdashi, Roop Chaudas, Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi, Bhoot Chaturdashi and it marks the second of the five days of Diwali festivities that start with Dhanteras.
The festival is usually celebrated a day before Diwali and a day after Dhanteras every year. Narak Chaturdashi and Diwali are both being celebrated on October 24 this year. The festival is observed across India to mark victory over mythical demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. After killing Narakasur, it is considered auspicious to take an oil bath the day before sunrise, as it is believed that Lord Krishna took an oil bath to wipe all the blood and grime off his body.
The story of Narakasur:-
Narakasur’s attack on Devaloka after taking over all the kingdoms of the earth raised the ire of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama. Confident of his win, the demon king Narakasura could only be killed by Bhoomi Devi or Mother Earth when Lord Krishna along with Satyabhama arrived at Narakasura’s capital Pragjyotishyapur.
Narakasur hit Lord Krishna with his trident and he fell down, killing all the other demons in the process. Satyabhama was shocked to see her husband unconscious. She immediately shot an arrow at Narakasur which killed him.
Satyabhama was an incarnation of Bhoomi Devi and was destined to kill Narakasur, revealed Lord Krishna with a smile, getting up from his seat at that moment.
Narak Chaturdashi celebrations across the country:-
Different parts of the country celebrate Narak Chaturdashi differently. In northern India, it is referred to as Chhoti Diwali, while in Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Tamil Deepavali.
Bhoot Chaturdashi is celebrated in West Bengal as a day to welcome 14 forefathers of a family by lighting 14 diyas. The belief is that the forefathers visit their relatives to guide them and remove obstacles from their life.
Effigies of Narakasura filled with grass and firecrackers are burnt in Goa, depicting elimination of evil and removal of ignorance. Abhyanga Snan is of great significance on the day in Maharashtra.
Ubtan during Abhyang Snan should be made with til or sesame oil. After taking a bath, people also worship Yamraj or God of death by chanting mantras and putting black sesame seeds in water.