With the festival of lights holding a great prominence when it comes to celebrations, we often ignore the Choti Diwali that precedes the big day, but it holds a significance of its own. Diwali is a five-day long festival, starting from Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdasi (Choti Diwali), Diwali, Padva to the final day Bhai Dooj.
Also, called as Roop Chaturdasi, Choti Diwali is celebrated by lighting up the homes with diyas and lights to welcome Diwali. There are many myths associated with the festival. One such legend revolves around demon king, Narakasur, who ruled Pragjyotishpur (a province in the south of Nepal). He is believed to have defeated Lord Krishna and other gods and imprisoned 16,000 daughters of various gods. Another heinous crime the demon king is believed to have committed was snatching the earrings of goddess Aditi, who is considered a mother of all gods and goddesses.
One day before Choti Diwali, Krishna defeated the demon and freed all the daughters and brought back the earrings of Aditi. The day is celebrated to mark the victory of Krishna over the demon king.
The legend of Bali
Another myth of the festival takes its inspiration from king Bali. Though, this is the same mythological tale around which Onam is celebrated in Kerala, according to some people, the same story applies to Choti Diwali as well.
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It is believed that Bali was an arrogant and powerful king and all the gods were afraid that he would overpower the three lokas and unjustly rule them. In order to calm these fears, Lord Vishnu is believed to have taken the Vamana avatar and asked Bali to give him a 3ft space of his kingdom.
Bali insulted Vishnu and agreed to give him anything he ‘begged’ for. Vishnu, who rose to his magnificent size, covered all three lokas in just two steps and asked Bali where he should keep his third step. Bali told him to keep it on his head and thus Vishnu conquered the powerful king. The day is also celebrated by some to mark Vishnu’s victory over Bali and laying claim to the three lokas again.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and grace over greed and is celebrated with grandeur throughout India.