Naraka Chaturdashi, also known as Choti Diwali, Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi, Roop Chaudas and Kali Chaudas, is celebrated on the second day of the five-day Diwali festival. It falls on the 14th day of the Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Ashwin. According to Hindi mythology, Lord Krishna and Goddess Kali killed demon Narakasura, ruler of Pragjyotishpur, on this day. Narakasura would kidnap the gopis and often ill-treat them. When Satyabhama, the second wife of Krishna, came to know about it she was furious and requested Krishna to grant her power so that she can destroy him. As Narakasura had a curse that he would be killed by a female. Satyabhama beheaded Narakasura and released the imprisoned women. The day is called ‘Kali Chaudas’, here ‘Kali’ means ‘dark’ and ‘Chaudas’ means ‘fourteenth’. And since the day falls a night before Diwali, it is also called as Choti Diwali. In 2017, Naraka Chaturdashi falls on October 18.
The most popular ritual on the day is to perform abhyanga snan, which is a holy bath using sesame oil and ubtan to avoid going to narak or hell. The ubtan is prepared using sandalwood powder, turmeric, besan, and milk. A berry called kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narakasura, symbolising evil and removal of ignorance. In Goa, effigies of Narakasura are made with paper and grass, filled with firecrackers. These effigies are burnt early morning.
According to a legend, there was a king named Ranti Deva who was religious and devoted to the service of mankind. One day, Yama, the God of death, came to claim the soul of the king. The king was shocked to learn that he was being taken to hell. He asked Yama that he never committed a sin in his life and dedicated all his life in service of the others then why Yama was sending him to hell. To which Yama replied that a few years back he had once returned a hungry priest from his door.
The king apologised and asked for one more life, which he was granted. The king then met few saints who advised him to observe fast on Narak Chaturdashi and offer food to priests to apologise for his past deeds. Since then Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated to prevent themselves from going to hell and get rid of all the sins.
Abhyang Snan Muhurta: 5:06 am to 6:37 am
Chaturdashi tithi begins:00:08 am on October 18, 2017
Chaturdashi tithi ends: 00:13 am on October 19, 2017