Sunday, November 14, 2010

Naraka Chaturdashi

Third day of Diwali:
Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin).
         Chaturdashi means 14th day. In Gujarat, they call ‘Kali Chaudas’. In Rajasthan, as ‘Roop Chaudas’.

         This day holds many legends.

Narakasura was a demon king of ‘Pradyoshapuram’. Amongst his other wicked deeds, he kidnapped beautiful women and forced them to live with him. To prove his power, Narakasura stole some earrings belonging to Aditi, mother of all gods. The gods were not happy and asked Lord Krishna for help. A animosity had been put on Narakasura. The animosity is one day he would be killed by his mother.

Lord Krishna knew that his wife, Satyabhama was a reincarnation of Narakasura’s mother. So he asked her to drive the chariot as he went to battle with the demon. Narakasura shot an arrow at Lord Krishna, who pretended to be hit. In Animosity, Satyabhama grabbed Lord Krishna’s bow and arrow and killed the demon instantly.

Narakasura’s mother declared that her son’s death should not be a day of gloom. So Hindus celebrate this event. It is said, after the battle with the demon, Lord Krishna bathed in oil to clean the splattered blood from his body. In some regions, rubbing oil into the body or having a special oil bath is part of a Deepavali Celebrations. It’s called as ‘Abhyangasnan’.

In South, People celebrate this day as ‘Deepavali’. I offered prayers to Lord Krishna and Vishnu. The time has come for carnival, our family and friends gathered at one place, made a huge Narakasura dummy idol made up of firecrackers. For fun one person got dressed as Lord Krishna and lit the idol. I bet you should watch the lightening thing. It’s like looking at sun at a closer distance. It’s a warm feeling in that cold, chilled weather. The joy I had at this gala is immense. It’s a blast!!  Always god wins over demon. Evil will perish once for all.

Another Myth is, Lord Rama son of ‘Dasaradha’ king of ‘Ayodhya’ and heir to the throne. Rama’s stepmother was jealous of Rama and wanted him to leave the kingdom; so that, her son could become heir. Under the influence of his wife, the king was forced to send Rama to live in exile in the forest for 14 years. Rama’s wife Sita; and his brother Lakshman accompanied him. In the forest there lived several demons. 

Rama fought with rakshas and drove them away, making Ravana very angry. Ravana king of ‘Lanka’ is a great pundit, highly learned but still evil dominated his wisdom. He captured Rama’s wife Sita, but she cleverly left a trail of jewels so that Rama could follow her to the island of Lanka. With the help of his brother and Hanuman, Rama set off to save her. Hanuman and the army of Vanara’s (monkey) helped to build a huge bridge across to the Island. Rama crossed the bridge and shot an arrow into Ravana. The demon was killed and the Sita was rescued.

Rama, Sita and Lakshman returned to the kingdom after 14 years of living in the forest and Rama became king. People in Ayodhya celebrated Rama’s return by lighting up clay lamps.

On this day, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped with great devotion. Goddess Lakshmi is also called ‘Shri’; the female of Supreme Being. 

There are legends associated to worship of Lakshmi on this day. First legend, Lakshmi was the daughter of the rushi ‘Bhirgu’ and took refugee in the ocean of milk, when the gods were sent into exile. On this day, Lakshmi emerged (reborn) from ‘Ksheer Sagar’ during the churning of the ocean of milk. As soon as the gods saw Lakshmi, they all fell in love with her charm and beauty. Shiva claimed Lakshmi as his wife, but since he had already taken the moon, her hand was given to Vishnu, whom Lakshmi herself preferred. Second Legend, (more popular in Western India) relates to ‘Vamana’ avatar of the Vishnu, the incarnation to kill the demon king Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his adobe, the ‘Vaikuntam’; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.

Lakshmi is the goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth. While Lakshmi is generally worshipped to achieve success, she does not reside along with anyone who is lazy or desire her only as wealth.

‘Safe’ where you keep money and jewelry; worship this safe as a symbol of Lord ‘Kubera’.

As per spiritual references, on this day “Lakshmi – Panchayatan” enters the universe Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this “Panchayatan” (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:

  • Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
  • Vishnu: Happiness (satisfaction).
  • Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
  • Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
  • Gajendra: Carries the wealth.

I performed Lakshmi puja after sunset. I did ‘Lakshmi Ashtothara Sahasranamavali’ with coins. I try to please Lakshmi by singing ‘Ashta Lakshmi sthothram’.

Always remember that she abhors loud noise. So the ‘harathi’ should be accompanied only by a small bell. Do not clap hands, as it is a practice when performing harathi for other gods. A peaceful atmosphere should be maintained during the puja. Do not light crackers while the puja is on or immediately after it.

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