A renowned place of pilgrimage situated in Avantīkṣetra (Avantikshetra). Ablution at this sacred site spares one’s ancestors from suffering in naraka or hell.
Once Devī Pārvatī’s (Devi Parvati’s) skin turned dark. She was dismayed at losing her fair complexion. Even though Śiva (Shiva) consoled her, he also teased Pārvatī by calling her ‘Kālī’ (Kali). Enraged, she went to Vindhyācala (Vindhyachala) and engaged herself in rigorous religious austerities to restore her fair appearance.
On the other hand, Śiva, despondent from his estrangement with Pārvatī, disappeared as well, and with him disappeared his three eyes—the sun, the moon, and agni (or fire). Consequently, the cosmos plunged into darkness. The gods sought help from God Viṣṇu (Vishnu) to retrieve fire. Viṣṇu advised the gods to light lamps, for those would illuminate the entire world. The gods asked, “From where will we get the fire to light the lamps?” Nārāyaṇa (Narayana) said, “Fire is born in the hearts of gods and men. Create the fire from your hearts.” Following his direction,the gods evoked the fire in their hearts in the forms of knowledge and of sense/awareness. Thus, the lamps were lit illuminating the universe by their light.
Then, Viṣṇu told the gods, “Go to Anaraka tīrtha (tirtha, or a place of pilgrimage) in Avantī Nagara. On the fourteenth day of the dark fort night in the month of Kārtika (Kartika), bathe at that holy place and pray to Yama, the god of death, with hymns of praise . This ritual absolves one of all sins and grants peace and a place in heaven to one’s ancestors. On that day, light a thousand lamps, observe a fast and engage in charity towards brāhmaṇas (brahmanas). Immerse yourself in music and other festivities.”
Thus, through the gods, word spread about the prominence of Anaraka tīrtha in Avantīkṣetra. What is more important here than the greatness of Anaraka tīrtha, is the festival of dīpāvalī (dippavali). Dīpāvalī is still celebrated all over India on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Kārtika. This account chronicles the rituals to be observed during this time.