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About Diwali Festival
The day before Diwali is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali or Narak Chaturdashi. On the day of Chhoti Diwali, people light lamps and fire crackers. Thus, one can say that Diwali is celebrated on a smaller scale on this day. Goddess Lakshmi, along with Lord Ram and Lord Krishna, is worshiped on this occasion.
What is Diwali Festival? Diwali is a festival of lights which is celebrated to mark victory of Lord Rama over Raavana. However, Chhoti Diwali is celebrated a prior to the main festival of Diwali and has a lot of religious significance for people. It is believed, on this day Lord Krishna defeated the Devil Narakasur, and freed people from his terror. It is celebrated with same enthusiasm as the main Diwali but it is on a comparatively lower scale.
Chhoti Diwali falls on the fourteenth day (of the dark Moon phase) in the month of Kartik (as per the Hindu calendar). Hence, it is celebrated just a day prior to the main Diwali festival.
Legends and Beliefs -:
The legend goes that, once there lived a Demon named Narakasur. After defeating Lord Indra in a battle, he stole Mother Goddess Aditi’s precious earrings and made 16,000 women (daughters of different gods and saints) his prisoners. Mother Goddess was the ruler of Suraloka and also a relative of Lord Krishna’s wife, Satyabhama. Satyabhama expressed her desire to fight with Narakasur and sought Lord Krishna’s blessings for the same. Lord Krishna himself drove her chariot and Narakasur was killed in the battle. Earrings were returned to Mother Goddess Aditi and all the 16,000 girls were freed. In order to save them from embarrassment, Lord Krishna agreed to marry all of them. Next day, in the morning when Lord returned, the women folk massaged his body with scented oil and washed his body to take the filth off from his body. Bhudevi, mother of Narakasur told everyone not to mourn on her son’s death but to celebrate this day with joy. Since then, this day is being observed as Chhoti Diwali.
Rituals and Celebrations -:
On the day of Chhoti Diwali, people get up early in the morning and take a ritual bath. In some southern states of India, people break a bitter fruit (symbolizing the head of Narakasur) and apply a paste of Kumkum (a red powder used for smearing on forehead during Puja as a Hindu ritual) and oil on their foreheads, take bath in the scented oil and later in water. Kumkum-oil paste symbolizes the blood Lord Krishna had smeared on his forehead after Narakasur’s death. Ladies draw colourful Rangoli (a folk art from India, where decorative designs are made on the floor) at their doorsteps especially small footprints (symbolizing Goddess Laxmi’s feet) with rice or some other natural powders. It is a way of welcoming the Goddess of wealth and prosperity into the house.
In the evening, Lakshmi Puja is done with Aarti (chants) and Bhajans (devotional songs). After the Puja, earthen lamps and candles are placed in and around the house. Children fire crackers and people visit their friends and relatives to exchange warm greetings and sweets. Many people wish their friends and relatives living at far off places by sending them Diwali cards.
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