Vibrant Diwali festival is full of sparkling colour’s, which celebrates life and family. Five days of sheer bliss and alluring aromatic indulgences with near and dear ones. The first day Dhanteras celebrations are followed by Narak-Chaturdarshi or Chhoti Diwali hullaballoo. On this particular day, people make it a point to get up early and each member of the family is expected to have an early tailabhyangam (oil-bath) and later this is followed-up by aromatic uptan application to cleanse the body and calm the soul with herbs (like turmeric) that are scented with essential oils.
In the good-old-days, matriarch of the household was in command and demanded each member to finish the elaborate bathing ritual and dress up in their new clothes bright and early. Once ready post-bath; the womenfolk of the household decorated the courtyards with rangoli’s (drawing traditional motifs with colorful powders.) Now, they have that the festive stage is set and traditional puja thali decorated and lit; worship of Lord Krishna’s victory over evil wicked demon king Narakasur ensues. Post puja the sweet and savoury indulgences start.
Legend of Narak-Chaturdashi- The second day of Diwali is dedicated to the victory of Lord Krishna over the wicked demon king Narakasur. Narakasura was the son of Bhoomi God and despite of the righteous parentage, he possessed devilish tendencies. Ancient scriptures have it that Naraka after a severe penance had acquired immense powers due to a blessing given by Lord Brahma. Under his rule everyone suffered a lot of hardship and torture. Also, Narakasura attacked the heavens and got hold of the army of elephants of Lord Indra. In his arrogance he even snatched away the splendid earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi who was a relative of Lord Krishna’s wife, Satyabhama. Narakasur imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of Gods and saints of marriageable age in his harem, and intended to marry them. This created chaos everywhere. When Lord Krishna learnt about Narakasur’s evil deeds, he decided to destroy him. On hearing this Satyabhama, Lord Krishna’s wife, took this task upon herself and with his help killed the demon in the early hours of the fourteenth day of the dark half of Ashvin. The women imprisoned by the demon were liberated. As a symbol of the victory Lord Krishna smeared his own forehead with the demon’s blood. On his return, the womenfolk massaged his body with scented oils and gave him a good bath to wash away the filth. Since, then the custom of taking a bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice.
In South India before sunrise people break a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon king that was smashed by Lord Krishna and apply a mixture of kumkum (a red powder applied on foreheads generally by women) and oil on their foreheads; to re-live the glorious victory of good over evil. They then have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.
After Narak-Chaturdashi, Laxmipujan is performed on the third day of Diwali. As the story goes on this particular day Goddess Laxmi emerged from the ocean of milk called the ksheersagar. She carried with her wealth and prosperity blessings for mankind. This emergence of Goddess Laxmi is celebrated with great splendor and grandeur. A lot of people believe that the Goddess of prosperity and good fortune visits the homes of devotees on this day after sunset. Hence, they perform the puja at the stroke of midnight!
For the following alluring aromatic Diwali delights, there would be no need to burn the mid night oil. Try out the dishy dishes!