Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdashi is the second day of the 5 day long Diwali festival which is observed on the chaturthi of the Krishna paksha of the month of Ashwain, according to traditional Hindu calendar.
As per the Gregorian calendar this festival is observed in the month of October November. This is the day when Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali are said to have defeated and killed the demon Narakasura.
This festival is also known in the names of Narak Puja or Bhut Chaturdashi It is also known as Chhoti Diwali, as it is observed on a day before Diwali. In 2019, this festival will be observed on the 27th of October.
- Legend of Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdashi
Once the demon king of Pragjyotishpur, a state which lay in the south of Nepal, wreaked havoc and snatched away the earring of Aditi, the mother Goddess and also imprisoned 16 thousand divine daughter, that is daughters of the God’ and other sages. He not only imprisoned them, but alos kept them in his harem.
The Narakashur however had a boon and a curse. The Boon was that no man will be able to defeat him and curse that he will die in the hands of a woman. Thus when Satyabhama came to know of this heinous act, she got furious and her blood boiled. Satyabhama sought permission from Lord Krishna to give her the power and the blessings that she may destroy the monstrous Narakasur. Lord Krishna not only empowered Satyabhama, but also became her charioteer in the battlefield. Thus with the blessings of Lord Krishna, Satyabhama beheaded Narakasura on the battlefield and freed the 16 thousand daughter of the gods and also the sages from Narakasur’s prison and harem. He also recovered the earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi that Narakasura had stolen.
To commemorate and celebrate the demolition and destruction of the Narakasur, Lord Krishna took his blood and smeared on his forehead, and returned home along with his wives early in the morning. His wives then put scented oil on his body and washed him with great scrubbing and care to wash away the filth of the battle. From then onwards, there is a custom of having a cleansing bath on the morning of this observance.
It is believed that the mother of Narakasura, Bhoodevi had opined that the death of her monstrous son should not be a day of mourning rather one of celebration. Thus since that day, this day has come to be celebrated with joyousness and gaiety.
It is also a day which is closely associated with ma Kali, the Goddess who destroys all evils, and is one of the Dasa Mahavidyas. Kali Chaudas is the day dedicated to the worship of Ma Kali, who killed the demon called Raktabeej. Devotees on this day prepare poha or semi cooked rice and offer to the goddess on this day. It Is auspicious to apply kajal or kohl on this day as it is believed to ward off evil.
Another auspicious legend associated with this day is the hanuman Jayanti. It is believed that on this day, Hanuman reached Ayodhya with the good news of Lord Rama’s return. Hanuman is worshipped with vermillion, sandalwood, flowers and oil on this day. Coconut, sesame seeds, rice ghee etc are offered as Prasad or offerings to Hanuman.
- Placating the Lord of Death
The Lord of Death is also worshipped on the day of Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdashi. He is worshipped so that we may get respite from the fear of untimely death. According to a story, long ago a king called Rantideva was about to die, and though he was a just and decent king Yama was taking his soul to Naraka or hell. The king asked of Yama as to why was he dragged to Hell when he had not done any wrong act. Yama told him that once the King had let a Brahmin come back hungry from his door. Hearing this, the King sought and begged for one more year as he wanted to rectify this wrong committed by him. Thus Yama granted Ranti Deva him his life back.
The sages and learned men asked Ranti Deva to keep strict fast on the Chaturdashi of the Kartik Krishna Paksha, feed Brahmins and priests and seek their blessings and admit his mistakes. Thus this is how Ranti Deva got relieved from his sins. Thus this day is observed for not going to the Naraka or Hell after death. The devotee should light a four-mouthed lamp, along with sixteen small lamps and worship God. Kheer, which is a kind of sweet prepared with milk and rice along with flowers, jiggery, abir colors etc should be used to worship the God. Lamps should be placed in different corners of the house.
- Roop Chaudas
This day is also known as Roop Chaudas and Lord Krishna is worshipped on this day to get fabulous good looks like him. Long ago there was a man called Yogiraj in Hirnagarbha. He made severe penance to please the Gods; however he got blisters, bug bite, lices in hair from the penance but no blessings from God. Narada advised him then to follow the correct route to penance. Narada advised him to observe fast on the Chaturthi of the Kartik Krishna Paksha. Yogiraj did the same and got his handsome glowing look back and since then this day has also come to be known as Roop Chaudas.
- Celebrations of Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdashi
The men on this auspicious day wake up early and apply perfumed oil onbody and then have a cleansing bath. Clean clothes are then worn and meals are had together along with family members. In the evening lamps are lit and fire crackers burst.
In Goa paper lanterns made out like the Narakasura and filled with grass and fire crackers are prepared. These are set afire at around 4 am in the morning and then people have bath, do aarti of the Gods, exchange gifts. A very bitter berry called kareet is crushed with foot symbolizing the death of Narakasura, or the evil by the good.
In lot of places in South India Deepavali is celebrated on this day. Lamps are lit and Lakshmi puja is done. People observe the Nombu and do Lakshmi Puja on this day. However, this day signifies a renewal and indicates the importance of starting afresh.