Narak Chaturdashi which falls on the 14th. day of dark half of the month Karthik is the day, demon Narakasur was killed by Krishna and Satyabhama. Naraka means hell and it is believed that he was the son of Mother Earth and had been cursed to die at the hands of his own mother. Satyabhama who is considered as an incarnation of mother earth along wand as such became the reason for this demon’s death! Narakasur had over 16000 women in captivity which represent the subtle energies/shaktis of devotion.
All ancient Hindu legends and stories are symbolic in nature with deeper meaning. Here it needs to be noted that Naraka which means hell is an offspring of our life on earth. Earth is also called as the Karma bhoomi, i.e. it is our karmas which bring about hell. And anything hellish can only be dissolved by our karmas. After all- devotion, asking the divine for intervention and forgiveness as well as even Karmic clearing is all ultimately karma i.e. action. And of course, only our karmas will allow us to get rid of any hellish circumstances.
So basically, Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdashi is the day where mother earth in the form of Satyabhama along with Krishna (Divine Consciousness) slay the demon of hell (Narakasur) and bring forth freedom of captive positive subtle energies- 16000 women (shaktis) is the day which is celebrated by honoring Kali- the first Shakti along with Krishna and Satyabhama.
Traditional Rituals for Narak Chaturdashi:
It is believed that after this war with Narakasur, when Krishna returned to his home palace Dwarka, he took a relaxing bath by applying oil to his body. Because of this, many folks start this day by taking a ritual bath after oiling their bodies. What needs to be noted is that, Diwali is the last festival of the year after which things calm down for winter (after all this culture existed in the Himalayas!). So, applying oil is also a way to get our skin emolliated and ready for the upcoming cold and harsh weather.