Narkachaturdashi is celebrated on the second day of Diwali. It is actually called as Narka Nivaran Chaturdashi. It falls on fourteenth day of hindu lunar month and the demon, Narkasur was said to be killed on this day, hence the name, Narkachaturdashi.
Many stories revolve around Narkachaturdashi and one of the many popular beliefs is that Narkasur was killed by Krishna’s wife on this day. The legend says that Narka was the son of Bhudevi who acquired immense power from a blessing given by Lord Brahma after a severe penance. He ruled the Kingdom of Pradyoshapuram. He is said to have grown to be a demon through association with Banasura. Under his rule, the villagers suffered a lot of hardship as the demon tortured the people and kidnapped the women to be imprisoned in his palace with his invincible might.
It was foretold that Narkasur would be destroyed by a woman. According to a few other beliefs, Naraka had a boon that he would face death only at the hands of his mother, Bhudevi. However, the story then takes an interesting twist. Unable to bear the tyranny of the demon, the celestial beings pleaded with Lord Krishna to save them from his torture. Krishna asked his wife Sathyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka. When Narakasura got a chance, he took aim at Krishna, hurting him lightly. Krishna fainted in a preordained, divine plan adopted to empower Satyabhama. As expected, seeing Krishna being hurt, Satyabhama was furious and she doubled her attack on the demon king and finally killed him. Before Narakasura’s death, he requested a boon from his mother, Satyabhama, that everyone should celebrate his death with colorful light
People also believe that Narkasur was destroyed by Satyabhama after she realized that her relative was being ill treated by him
The Hindu mythology narrates that Narakasura was killed on this day by Kali and hence it is also called as Kali Chaudas. Another version of the story says that Krishna destroyed Narkasur with his Sudarshan Chakra and took a holy bath (abhyanga snaan) after the war ended.
The story might have different versions, but the conclusion remains the same. Narkachaturdashi is a day to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Abhyanga Snaan is a important ritual that is performed on this day. It is a Ayurvedic procedure of an oil massage followed by a holy bath with Utana (aromatic body scrub). It regulates the blood circulation, removes dead cells from the surface of the skin, cleans the body thoroughly and the aromatics used while performing this ritual calms the mind.The early morning bath is of significance because the holy water symbolizes the end of the evil powers. The process of Abhyanga Snaan is done before the sunrise. It is believed that the gates of hell are closed to the one who follows this ritual.
Lately, the use of utana and oil is replaced by scented soaps and body-mists but there are people who still follow the traditional ways
After the holy bath, Rangoli is drawn at the doorstep and people celebrate the win of good over evil by illuminating their houses with lanterns and Diyas and also by bursting fire-crackers. The ritual of Kali Chaudas is strongly suggestive of the origin of Diwali as a harvest festival is also performed. On this day delicacies are prepared from pounded semi-cooked rice (Poha). This custom is prevalent both in rural and urban areas especially in Western India. In Goa, paper-made effigies of the demon, filled with grass and fire-crackers are burnt. The women of the house perform Aarti of the men and a bitter berry called Kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narkasur, symbolizing the removal of evil.
All the families across the country enjoy eating Faral (Snacks cooked especially for Diwali) and visit temples to seek the blessings of the higher power.