The day before the celebration of Diwali is Narak Chaturdasi. On this day women draw colourful rangolis on the doorway and courtyard with rice paste, with footprints of Lakshmi and light lamps to welcome her.
Narak Chaturdasi – This is the day of Narakasura`s death and a celebration for all. After burning the effigies of the demon, Narakasura, people take bath and pray to Lord Yama. They pray by lighting lamps with four wicks at various places. Lord Yama is invoked through prayers to overcome the dangers of death and for a long life.
Legends behind Narak Chaturdasi
Birth of Narakasura
Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Varaha – a boar rescued Mother Earth, Bhoomidevi from the demon Hiranyaksha and killed him. Born from Varaha and Bhoomidevi was Narakasura, who had invincible powers at his command.
Invasion of the three worlds
Narakasura was the king of Pragjothispura (a province to the south of Nepal). He was very powerful and demoniac in nature. He invaded the three worlds and took 16000 women in captivity. He took pleasure in inflicting torture to the beings of the three worlds through constant raiding and plunders. He imprisoned sages and devas too.
He attacked the heavens ruled by Indra to seize thousands of divine elephants in his army. He seized the glittering earrings of Mother Aditi – Mother of all the Devas. Mother Aditi was the ruler of Suraloka and a relative of Sathyabama.
Lord Indra`s seeks refuge in Krishna
Narakasura mercilessly killed the devas and being unable to bear the torture and shame inflicted by Narakasura, Indra sought the help of Krishna, to avenge his defeat.
Krishna and Sathyabama
Krishna with his wife Sathyabama (Bhoomidevi reborn) was enraged to hear the atrocities committed by Narakasura. Mother Earth or Bhoomidevi was reborn as Sathyabama in Dwaparayuga. She vowed to fight him to rescue the women in captivity, to secure the confiscated earrings of Mother Aditi and to relieve the Gods and sages held captive by the cruel asura.
Krishna fights Narakasura
Narakasura was under the spell of a curse to meet his death at the hands of a woman. All knowing Krishna took Sathyabama along with him to fight the battle with Narakasura on his mount Garuda. Krishna was the charioteer to Sathyabama in the fierce battle that ensued between Krishna and Narakasura.
Defeat of Mura
Narakasura`s fort was impenetrable with a barrier of magical mountains. Unperturbed Krishna used his mace to destroy the mountains and headed to defeat him. The fortress was guarded by the five headed demon, Mura who attacked Krishna and his troops with countless weapons. All powerful Krishna defeated and killed Mura by hurling his chakra or discus, to gain entry into the fortress and hence he is called,”Murari”. It is believed that just by hearing and reading this divine story of Krishna of killing Mura, would help destroy all our problems by the power of his compassion and mercy.
Killing of Narakasura
In the war that followed, Sathyabama killed Narakasura as ordained by the divine will. She was the mother of Narakasura in the previous incarnation and destined to put an end to his life. However, some scriptures say that Krishna used his discus to kill Narakasura.
On the day of Narak Chaturdasi, Krishna returned to his palace and had a bath to cleanse himself of the blood stains and the sin of slaying the demon. Since then it has become the practice to take bath with scented oil before sunrise.
Mother Earth`s Oath
Mother Earth or Bhoomidevi declared that the death of her son should be rejoiced as it is victory over evil. Narakasura before his last breath prayed to the mother that people should celebrate his death by lighting lamps all over and bursting firecrackers to rejoice the occasion. He repented for his innumerable sins committed against innocent people due to his dark ignorance.
Celebration of the death of the demon
Mother Bhoomidevi sang in praise of Krishna. Gods from heaven showered flowers and sang in glory of him. Devas and sages held in captivity were released. Mother Aditi`s earrings were restored to her. The kingdom was brought under the control of Narakasura`s son, Bhagdatta who pleaded for Krishna`s protection. The 16000 damsels were set free. Everybody rejoiced the death of Narakasura. People rejoiced all over the country.
Thus was born the Celebration of Diwali – Triumph of Good over Evil.