Deepavali or Diwali or Deepawali is celebrated for many reasons throughout India. We are truly a land of plentiful stories!
Here is one of the reasons why it is celebrated.
Day 1: Chaturdashi or Naraka-Chaturdashi
Day 2 : Amavasye
Day 3 : Bali Padyami
Day 1 : Naraka- Charurdashi
Most festivals are celebrated for the triumph of good over evil. Usually, there is a wicked demon who is slayed by a God to save humanity.
Here, Narakasura (Naraka means hell) is a demon born to Bhudevi – mother earth. He is a boon from Lord Vishnu to Bhudevi. Despite such illustrious parents, Naraka turns out evil. He obtains a boon from Lord Brahma that he be invincible. Drunk with power, Narakasura loots Kings and kidnaps their daughters.
However, when his atrocities reach unbearable heights, that is, when he kidnaps 16,000 women, Lord Vishnu who was born on earth as Krishna decides to end the demon.
With a ferocious battle that ensues, Krishna kills Narakasura. There are different accounts to who killed Naraka. Some like Vishnu Purana say Lord Vishnu. Some other accounts say it was Satyabhama, Krishna’s consort.
According to the stories where Satyabhama kills Narakasura, she is the incarnation of Bhudevi. And Naraka’s boon from Brahma is that he be killed only by his mother and none else. So, his death comes in the hands of Satyabhama. As the story goes, Krishna faints momentarily on the battlefield. That’s when Satyabhama, who is his charioteer, takes over to kill Narakasura.
These demons always underestimate Gods! If Bhudevi is Naraka’s mother, she of course cannot kill her own son. However, Satyabhama who is an Avatara of Bhudevi has no such qualms! She doesn’t even know that she is an incarnation – that’s is how Avataras work – the incarnate will be a normal human being without any memory of who they originally were. Well, there are exceptions to this rule but this is how it is mostly!
Happy Narakachaturdashi. It is said Krishna, on this day in that era, headed home to wash the blood off him. That’s why in Karnataka it is customary that the devotees oil their hair and wash it off at the crack of dawn.