Significance of Naraka Chathurdasi/Kali Chaudas
Kali means Dark (eternal) and Chaudas - Fourteenth. Thus, celebrated on the 14th day of the dark half of Kartik month, Kali Chaudas is the day allotted to the worship ofMahakali or Shakti and is believed that on this day Kali killed the most wicked Narakasura. Also referred to as Naraka-Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas is day to abolish laziness and evil which create hell in our life and shine light on life. The strength to protect others is referred as Kali, and if its used for God's work is called Maha-kali....
Narakasura ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram. Puranas have it that Naraka, son of Bhudevi, acquired immense power from a blessing given by Lord Brahma after a severe penance. 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.
Narkasur had fought against neighbouring kings and imprisoned 16,000 women, daughters of the Gods and saints. He had also defeated Lord Indra and taken away the magnificient kundale (earrings) from the ears of Aditi, mother of the Gods. When Lord Krishna learnt about Narakasur’s deeds, he decided to engage him in battle and liberate all the celestials.
Unable to bear the tyranny of the demon, the celestial beings pleaded with Lord Krishna to save them from his torture. But Naraka had a boon that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi. So, Krishna asks his wife Sathyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka.
When Krishna fell unconscious after being hit by an arrow of Naraka, Sathyabhama takes the bow and aims the arrow at Naraka, killing him instantly. Later Lord Krishna reminds her of the boon she had sought as Bhudevi. The Narakasura Vadh by Sathyabhama could also be taken to interpret that parents should not hesitate to punish their children when they step in to the wrong path.
The message of Naraka Chaturdashi Parva is that the good of the society should always prevail over one's own personal bonds. It is interesting to note that Bhudevi, mother of the slain demon Naraka, declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. It is said Lord Krishna had an oil bath to rid himself off the blood spattered on his body when Naraka was killed.
The tradition is followed and people offer prayers on the previous day of the Naraka Chaturdashi to the vessel in which water is being heated for having bath. Hindus light fireworks, which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day.
Rituals associated with Kali Choudas
The puja is performed with oil, flowers, and sandalwood. Coconuts are also offered to Hanuman and prashad of sesame seed, jaggery and rice flakes(poha) with ghee and sugar.
The rituals of Kali Choudas is strongly suggestive of the origin of Diwali as a harvest festival is performed. On this day delicacies are prepared from pounded semi-cooked rice (called Poha or Pova). This rice is taken from the fresh harvest available at that time. This custom is prevalent both in rural and urban areas, especially in Western India.
On this day, a head wash and the application of kajal in the eyes is believed to keep away the kali nazar (evil eye). Some say that those who are into tantra, learn their 'mantras' on this day. Alternatively, people offer Nivet is local to where they are originally from. This goddess is called their Kul Devi, in order to cast off evil spirits. Some families also offer food to their forefathers on this day. The second day of Diwali is known as Kali Choudas in Gujarat, Rajasthan & few part of Maharashtra.
The custom of taking a bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice. People get up early and have an oil-bath (तेल अभ्यन्गम). The tradition of taking oil baths has its origins in ayurvedic medicine. Preparations for this ritual bath begin the night before as water pots are cleaned, venerated, decorated with marigolds and mango leaves and filled with water in readiness for dawn. They are heated next morning and the hot water is used for ritual baths.
"The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age". Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
After their hot water bath, an aromatic paste of herbs in scented oils is applied. Everyone then dresses up in new clothes and the celebrations begin with the bursting of fireworks and distribution of sweets that have been first offered to God. The courtyards are decorated with rangoli (drawing of traditional motifs with colorful powders) and the attention shifts to the feasting on different sweet and savoury snacks prepared for the festival. Typical sweets like laddus, chaklis, sakkaparas, badam halwa and various savouries are made for this evening. House are lit with oil lamps during the evening.
In Goa,on this day, paper-made effigies of Narakasura, filled with grass and firecrackers symbolising evil, are made.These effigies are burnt at around four o'clock in the morning the following day/ Firecrackers are burst, and people return home to take a scented oil bath. Lamps are lit in a line.The women of the house perform aarti of the men, gifts are exchanged, a bitter berry called kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narkasur, symbolising evil and the removal of ignorance. Different varieties of Poha and sweets are made and eaten with family and friends.
In Tamil Nadu, Diwali is traditionally celebrated on Naraka Chaturdasi day. While the rest of India celebrates it on the new moon night, in Tamil Nadu, Diwali is celebrated Chaturdasi tithi. People get up earlier than usual and celebrate with oil baths, pooja, and festivals. Firecrackers are usually lit on Diwali. Some Tamil homes, observe "nombu" and do Lakshmi Pooja on this day.