Choti Diwali Festival
Diwali is the only festival that brings series of festivals with it. One after the other it gives us the chance to celebrate five festivals together. choti Diwali which falls on the fourteenth day of the Hindi month, Kartik just after Dhanteras, is a day before Diwali. choti Diwali is also referred to as Narak Chaturdashi or Small Diwali. It is celebrated with same zeal with fewer crackers burst and fewer lights lit. One of the special features of rangolis made in Diwali is tiny footprints. In the morning women of the house ensure that house is cleaned and in anticipation of Diwali they make beautiful rangolis at the entrance. In Hindu homes, Poojas (prayers) are carried outfor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, or Lord Rama.
Legends of Choti Diwali
The story that goes behind the celebrations of choti Diwali is about the demon king Narakasur, the ruler of Pragjyotishpur, a province to the South of Nepal after defeating lord Indra had snatched away the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi, the only ruler of Suraloka and also relative of Satyabhama who was Lord Krishna’s wife. Narakasur also imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the Gods and saints in his harem.
When Satyabhama came to know about this act he was enraged and she appealed to Lord Krishna to give her a chance to destroy Narakasur. The legend also says that Narakasur was cursed that he would be killed by woman. So Lord Krishna empowered Satyabhama to fight with Narakasur and Krishna acted as charioteer, Satyabhama entered the battle field. By the grace of Lord Krishna, Satyabhama beheaded Narakasur and also released the imprisoned ladies and also recovered the precious earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi.
Lord Krishna accepted all the imprisoned ladies as his wives in order to save them from embarrassments. As a symbol of victory, Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with Narakasur’s blood. Then Lord Krishna returned home with his new wives early morning of the Narak Chaturdashi day. The woman folk massaged scented oil on his body and gave him a good bath to wash away all the filth of the battle. Since that time it has been a traditional custom to have bath before sunrise on this day. It is also interesting to know that Bhudevi, mother of Narakasur declared that his death shouldn’t be the day of mourning but to be celebrated with joy and zeal. Since then choti Diwali is celebrated with great joy everywhere.
Choti Diwali Celebrations
The victory of divine over mundane is celebrated with great joy especially in South India. People wake up before sunrise and break any bitter fruit and apply KumKum oil paste that is known as ‘Ubtan’ on their foreheads and then take bath. The breaking of fruit symbolizes the head of the demon king Narakasur and the Kumkum oil represents the blood that Lord Krishna smeared on his forehead.
In Maharashtra people take traditional early morning bath with oil and ’Ubtan’ that is made from gram flour and fragrant powders. As long as the bath ritual of bath takes place, sounds of crackers and fireworks can be heard so that children enjoy taking bath. Afterwards steamed vermicelli with milk and sugar or puffed rice with curd is also served. In the evening, people lit divas and candles around their houses to mark the celebration of Diwali.