India celebrates 'Choti Diwali'

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 12, 2012 17:12 hrs

People across India celebrated Choti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdashi on Monday as a prelude to the festival of lights Diwali on Tuesday.

People were seen bursting crackers and decorating their houses with lights on Monday evening.

Naraka Chaturdashi, which is also known as Kali Chaudas, is a Hindu festival, which falls on the second day of the festival of Diwali.

Kali means ´dark´ (eternal) and Chaudas stands for ´fourteenth´. Thus, celebrated on the 14th day of the dark half of Āshwin month, Kali Chaudas is the day allotted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti and is believed that on this day Kali killed the wickedest Narakasura.

This is a day to abolish laziness and evil.

On Naraka Chaturdashi, the ´poojan´ (ritual) is performed with oil, flowers and chandan. Coconuts are also offered to Lord Hanuman.

The rituals of Kali Choudas is strongly suggestive of the origin of Deepavaali as a harvest festival.

On this day, delicacies are prepared from pounded semi-cooked rice (called Poha or Pova). This rice is taken from the fresh harvest available at that time.

This custom is prevalent both in rural and urban areas especially in Western India.

A head wash and application of ´kajal´ in the eyes is believed to keep away the kali nazar (evil eye) on this day.

Some say that those who are into tantra, learn their ´mantras´ on this day.

Alternatively, people offer Nived (food) to their local goddess known as ´Kul Devi´ in order to cast off evil spirits.

Some families also offer food to their forefathers on this day.

Kali Choudas is mostly celebrated in Gujarat, Rajasthan and few parts of Maharashtra.

On this day Hindus get up earlier than usual. Men rub their bodies in perfumed oils before bathing. Afterwards, clean clothes are worn; some people wear new ones. A large breakfast is enjoyed with relatives and friends.

In the evening, a mix of bright and loud fireworks are set off in an atmosphere of joyful fun and noise. Special sweet dishes are served. House are lit with oil lamps during the evening.

Wishing people o the occasion of ´Choti Diwali´, Bollywood actress Minissha Lamba tweeted: "Happy choti diwali to all.. Its been a great festive run in Mumbai.. Barely heard any crackers! That´s a win 4 d environment. Go Mumbaikars!"

Actress Neha Dhupia posted: "Happy choti #diwali all ... I´m home with the folks, what are u guys upto?"

Celebrations for Diwali festival commenced on Sunday with ´Dhanteras´ in different parts of north India.

It is also known as "Dhantrayodashi" or "Dhanvantari Triodasi".

It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin.

On Dhanteras, the "Owl" form of Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and well-being.

Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day.

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