Diwali – Naraka Chaturdashi
Leading to the Amavasya night, a precursor to Diwali day is Naraka Chaturdashi.
Naraka Chaturdashi is the second day of Diwali (find the first here). This day attains its name from the legendary story of Narakasura and Lord Krishna. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura today (the day changes from year to year according to the lunar calendar). Naraka, was the son of the Goddess of Earth, Bhoomi and Varaha, who is believed to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Naraka became as asura (demon) through his association with another demon named Banasura.
As Naraka ravaged kingdoms, Indra, the leader of the Devas approached Lord Krishna for his assistance in eliminating this vicious asura. Lord Krishna mounted his eagle, Garuda and set off for Baraka’s fortress, somewhere near Assam, where he was defeated and killed. Hence, this day comes to be known as Naraka Chaturdashi.
After defeating Narakasura, Lord Krishna released the 16,000 women Naraka had kidnapped, for them to return to their homes. However, they refused to return because they would receive no respect as widows in the society. It was then, that they were symbolically wed to Lord Krishna. Till today, widows in Vrindavan celebrate Diwali on this day, honoring their spiritual, or religious relationship with Lord Krishna as their husband.
This is a very general and broad outline of what took place, and I shall save that for another blog post!
This tale of Lord Krishna happened centuries after the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya, which is the more common explanation for Diwali. Over the years and series of events, more and more
significance has been added to the this festival, which has also made it all the more mysterious. Nevertheless, more reason to celebrate!
In the modern-day, today (10/11/15) is also known as Choti Diwali, a precursor to the more elaborate celebration. People typically clean their houses and places of work, discarding all things unnecessary. A new year close at birth is welcomed by cleanliness and purity of fire,
symbolized by lighting of diyas. People exchange good wishes and gifts with one another,
becoming part of a large gaiety. Choti (small) Diwali leads up to the main day, lending an aura of festivity in the air, enthusiasm in people, and a common spirit of togetherness and excitement. It almost lays the foundation for a massive celebration to come on the following day.
Happy Choti Diwali!
There are differing perspectives to what the significance of each of these events is. This is just our perspective.
Other Pictures – Radhika Sethi, and Trishima Reddy
Written by Radhika Sethi with Vineet Sethi.