Naraka Chaturdashi : Story and Origin

 In Hinduism, Mythology

Naraka Chaturdashi : Story and Origin

Deepavali is celebrated throughout the country, north India considers Naraka Chaturdashi as “Choti Diwali” but in South India Naraka Chaturdashi is the main Deepavali. Style of celebrating is same, ligting of Diya’s and letting off the crackers but both celebrate on different days, South India celebrates the Deepavali a day earlier than the North Indian’s.  Both celebrate the victory of Good over Evil but North Indians celebrate the return of Rama to his Kingdom with Sita as Deepavali and South Indians celebrate the victory of Shakthi over the Evil Narakasura as the Deepavali. Festivities are on in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. However in the last two states some will celebrate Diwali with Lakshmi puja. Let us have a look at the Narakachaturdashi rituals and story.

Story of Narakasura

Hiranyaksha was a very terrifying demon he terrorized everyone alike, all the people in earth and heaven. Unable to tolerate him anymore, the people went to Lord Vishnu to protect him from Hiranyaksha. Lord Vishnu promised to help them.

When Hiranyaksha had come to know about this, he decides to hide the earth itself from the Lord so he cannot save it. When Hiranyaksha touched the earth to push her from the axis, an asura was created out of the contact between Bhumadevi, the Mother Earth and Hiranyaksha. The earth plummeted deep inside space. Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boar and held the earth in its horns and pushed her back in her axis. Lord Vishnu fought Hiranyaksha and defeated and killed him.

But a son was born to Bhumi devi, Lord Vishnu sadly tells that the Bhumi devi is an Asura and is more powerful than Hiranyaksha and it was only she who can destroy him when the time comes.

Narakasura becomes a cruel king. 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.

The king of the Gods Indra himself went to Lord Krishna with the request to kill the Narakasura. 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. Satyabhama 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. The final challenge for Lord Krishna was a demon named Mura who protected the palace of Narakasura. Lord Krishna used all his weapons but none worked on Mura. He finally used his extremely powerful Sudarshan chakra and killed Mura.

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.

In his death bed Narakasura requested Lord Krishna and his wife to forgive him and that his death be celebrated and not be mourned. They both blessed him saying that his death will always be remembered and celebrated. It will be a day of joy and celebrations. This is exactly what happened. Even today this day is celebrated as the Naraka Chaturdasi.

How is it Celebrated

When Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama returned after killing the demon Narakasura they were given a royal bath to clean their bodies of the blood stains of the demon. This is why you will notice that the bath is given so much importance on Naraka Chaturdasi. Even today in Telangana men are given the victory ‘aarti’ early in the morning.

In Southern states The night before the Naraka Chaturdasi the pots are decorated and marigold garlands are placed on them. Mango leaves are also filled in the pot with water. This water is heated in the morning and is used for bath. one must take this bath before the sun rises. The house is washed and decorated with kolam (rangoli) patterns with kavi (red oxide). For Diwali Festival, in the traditional pooja room, betel leaves, betel nuts, plaintain fruits, flowers, sandal paste, kumkum, gingelly oil, turmeric powder, scented powder is kept. Crackers and new dresses are placed in a plate after smearing a little kumkum or sandal paste.

The Diwali day begins with everyone in the family taking an oil bath before sunrise, a custom arising from a belief that having an oil bath in the morning on the day of diwali is equivalent to taking bath in the Ganges. Before the bath, elders in the house apply gingelly oil on the heads of the younger members. For those hailing from Tanjore, the custom is to first take a small quantity of deepavali lehiyam (medicinal, ayurvedic paste) after the oil bath and then have breakfast. Often sweets are eaten after wearing new clothes. In almost all houses, items like ukkarai, velli appam, idly, chutney, sambhar, omapudi, boondhi are prepared. For lunch, jangri, pathir peni, or one variety of the poli are made.

Crackers are usually burst only after the bath. Meanwhile, kuthu vilaku (oil lamp) is lit in the pooja room. Mats or wooden planks are placed facing east. After naivedhya (offering to the Gods) of the items, a plaintain fruit is given to each member of the family followed by betel leaves and betel nuts. Those who have to perform ‘pithru tharpanam’ will have a second bath perform the tharpanam and don’t eat rice at night.

In West Bengal, this day is known as Kali Chaudas. The day marks the defeat of Narakasur at the hands of Goddess Kali.

In Maharashtra, families celebrate this day by getting up early in the morning and having an abhyanga snan with ‘ubtan’. This ubtan is a mixture of chandan, ambe haldi, multani mitti, khus, Rose, besan. People worship the Lord by visiting temple early in the morning and bursting crackers.

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