The day before Diwali is celebrated as ‘Choti Diwali‘ or ‘Small Diwali’ or ‘Naraka Chaturdashi‘. People celebrate this day with lights and crackers but on a smaller scale.
The celebration of Choti Diwali
Women decorate their house with beautiful rangolis in the morning after choti diwali. Tiny footprints which symbolizes the footprints of Goddess Lakshmi, made out of rice paste are a special feature of the rangolis made for Diwali. In the evening Lakshmi Puja is done with Arati and Bhajans. After the puja, the diyas are placed in and around the house: in the doorway, near the Tulsi plant. In Hindu homes, Chhoti Diwali celebrations involve a ritual puja to Goddess Lakshmi and also to Rama in the evening. Songs in honor of the god are sung and aarti is performed.
The origin of Choti Diwali
This day is also known as “Bali Pratipada“. The word Pratiprada literally means “below the opponent’s foot”. According to the myth Bali was an immensely powerful king. When God felt that King Bali was becoming too powerful, lord Vishnu, disguised as a sage of diminutive proportions, appeared in his court. Bali offered to fulfill any of the sage’s wishes. The sage asked for all the land he could cover in three paces. King Bali agreed immediately. Vishnu then assumed a gigantic form and claimed the earth (Mrityuloka), and the heavens (Swargloka) in just two steps. To keep his foot down the 3rd time, he asked the king where should he keep his step. Bali happily offered his head. Thus, the reign of Bali was overthrown.
Also known as Narak Chaturdasi in another legend. There was this demon king Narakasur, ruler of Pragjyotishpur (a province to the South of Nepal).
He became very powerful and conquered both earth and heaven and imprisoned 16000 damsels. As a result he was attacked by lord Krishna and killed by him. Before death, he asked for this boon from Krishna that his last day be celebrated in grand style. Mother Bhudevi declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. Since then, Deepavali is being celebrated by people every year with joy and lots of fun.
This day is celebrated in South India by some different rituals. People wake up before sunrise, prepare a paste by mixing Kumkum in oil, symbolizing blood and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon king that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.