Diwali is a multi-day festival in India. The first day is Govatsa Dwadashi, and then Dhanteras, followed by Kali Chaudas or Naraka Chaturdashi. Kali is the powerful dark goddess (one meaning of “kala” is black) who is an avatar of Goddess Durga. In Indian mythology, Kali was a slayer of demons, including Narakasura. As a lunar based system, Vedic astrology or Jyotish pays close attention to the phases of the Moon. Chaturdashi is the 14th phase (tithi) of the Moon. According to Drikpanchang, Kali Chaudas 2023 falls on November 11th.
CELEBRATING KALI CHAUDAS 2023
On Kali Chaudas, Indians bathe with fragrant oils, put on new clothing, and apply kajal (kah-jull) to their eyelids. Kajal is thought to keep away Kali nazar or the evil eye of others. The female head of the household performs arati to the children and other adults. This frees them from negative vibrations. Then they share a sumptuous breakfast with their family. Afterwards, in the evening, they light the clay lamps to celebrate Diwali, and enjoy many delicious sweets.
Other versions of Vedic mythology relate the tale of Krishna and Satyabhama slaying Narakasura. Satyabhama was thought to be an incarnation of Bhudevi or Narakasura’s mother. She’s known for her strong will as well as her temper. She was angry with Narakasura due to his treatment of women, especially the mother goddess, Aditi.
The Story of Satyabhama and Krishna
Vedamurti Vivek Godbole of the Shri Krishna Yajurveda Pathashala in Maharashtra related the following story. “During Shri Krishna’s time, there was the ancient kingdom of Pragyajyotishpura, which is now Patna in Bihar. Bhasmasura or Narakasura was a demon king who had an evil regime. (The word Naraka means hell). He was very lustful. If any beautiful woman appeared, he would imprison her. He imprisoned over 16,000 princesses and abused them. As a result, these women were all were praying to Krishna to free them.”
“Finally one day, Krishna heard their prayers. He came to Pragyajyotishpura with one of his favorite wives, Satyabhama. Krishna fought with Narakasura, and defeated him with Satyabhama’s assistance, and then released the women. The young women cried, “We have been imprisoned for 2 to 3 years. Who will marry us?” Krishna replied, “Don’t worry. I will marry you.” Krishna married them and had 16,108 wives.”
Puja timings for Kali Chaudas and Naraka Chaturdashi in your area may be found on the Drikpanchang website. Both festivals fall on the 14th tithi (phase of the Moon), but timings will vary by region.