Legend has it that the demon king Narakasur, the ruler of Pragjyotishpur (a province to the south of Nepal) who defeated Lord Indra in a fierce battle. Besides, he snatched the glittering earrings of the Mother Goddess, Aditi. The evil demon king also abducted and imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the Gods and Saints in his harem.
Upon hearing of the atrocities carried out by Naraksura, Satyabhama was enraged and she pleaded with Lord Krishna to give her the opportunity to destroy the ruthless demon king and thereby vanquish his evil rule. Apparently, Naraksura had been cursed that he would meet his end at the hands of a woman. With Krishna as her charioteer, Satyabhama entered the battlefield and after a fierce battle and divine intervention from Lord Krishna, she successfully beheaded him. The imprisoned women were released and Krishna offered to marry them to save their honor.
Goddess Aditi’s earrings too were reclaimed from the demon king. As a symbol of victory of good over evil, Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with Naraksura’s blood. He returned home in the early hours of the morning of Narak chaturdashi. The womenfolk massaged scented oil on his body and gave him a good bath to wash away all the filth of the battle. Since then the custom of taking bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice especially in Maharashtra.
It is interesting to note that Bhudevi, mother of the slain Narakasura, declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. Since then, people have celebrated Choti Diwali each year.