India is a really big country so unfortunately different regions and castes have different stories of Divali. Here is (one of) the versions for our family/region/Tamil Nadu/South India that I wrote up for our family. I made it even simpler than what’s below, for the 3 year olds, and then made little puppets for people to hold up at appropriate points in the story.
Bhoomi Devi (Mother Earth) had a son named Narakasura. Naraka, through war, became the ruler of some kingdom in India. But, as usual, he wanted more power so he prayed for ages to the God Brahma to grant him a wish. What he really wanted was to be immortal and never be killed, but that is the one wish that a God can’t grant. So instead he said “Make it so that nobody can kill me except my mother,” figuring his own mom would never kill him. Brahma granted him this wish.
With his new confidence, Naraka started to be really evil in the world. He would steal, and capture thousands of women, daughters of Gods, and put them into his prisons.
Now Narakasura, greedy that he was, wanted to rule over everything, so he went to attack the heavens where all the Gods live and conquered it too. Now he ruled the heavens and earth!
Well, while he was terrorizing the heavens, he attacked the mother of all Gods, Aditi, and stole her glimmering earrings.
Aditi realized that this terror had to finally stop. She went to her cousin, Queen Satyabhama, who is the wife of the very powerful God Krishna. Krishna and his wife agreed to kill Naraka, which they knew was the only way to stop his evil.
They got on their giant eagle, Garuda, who flew them to Naraka’s fortress. But every time they tried to enter the fortress, a mountains would suddenly rise up to block them from going in. But for the God Krishna, this was nothing. He hurled his mace at the mountain and shattered the entire range with just one blow. But that made a downpour of weapons rain down on him and his wife. Krishna fired multiple arrows at these weapons and he destroyed them all.
Krishna finally reached Naraka’s palace, but he saw that it was guarded by the five-headed demon Mura. Mura hurled tons of weapons at Krishna, but Krishna shot each one down with his bow and arrow. Then Krishna picked up his flying, magic discus and hurled it towards Mura, destroying him.
Finally, Krishna and his wife made it to the palace and challenged Naraka to battle. Naraka came out on a gigantic elephant, ready to win. He shot an arrow straight at Krishna and, hitting his shoulder, Krishna fell over wounded. Krishna’s wife was horrified and angry! She immediately shot at Naraka and killed him, ending the evil once and for all. But Naraka had that magical wish that he could never be killed by anyone except his mother! Well it ended up that the Queen was actually an incarnation of Bhooma Devi so she was the one person who could kill him. Before Naraka died, he had one last request that everyone celebrate this day (I don’t know why…) so we celebrate Divali.
The next morning, when Krishna went home and was bathed with beautiful oils. This is why on the morning of Divali it is considered auspicious to have an early morning bath with oil and consider how good can always win over evil.