The Hush Post|08:00am| 2-min-read
Choti Diwali, also known as Naraka Chaturdasi, is the fourteenth day of the second fortnight of the lunar month. Naraka means hell and Chaturdasi means “fourteenth”. The day and its rituals are interpreted as ways to liberate any souls from their suffering in naraka or hell.
Yam ka diya
A specially-made big diya which has four openings is lighted outside the main door of the house. Before that, an elder of the family takes this diya around inside the house and then places it far from the house. It is also called yam ka diya. In Hindu religion, it is meant to liberate deified souls of one’s ancestors and light their way for their journeys in the cyclic afterlife. Also, it keeps ill-health away.
According to a mythological story, there was once a pious man called Ranti Dev who had committed no sin or harm to even the smallest creature. One day when Yamraj’s men came to take him away, he sought a year’s time. He went to the rishis and asked a way out to save himself from death. They asked him to fast and feed the brahmins on this particular day. Since then it became a ritual at some places to fast on this day.
Prelude to Diwali
Choti diwali is also a prelude to Diwali. Mithais or sweets and other festive foods are brought from the market or made at home. Sweets are exchanged with neighbours, relatives and friends.
A variety of sweets are prepared using flour, semolina, ghee, khoya , milk products, rice and dry fruits. There is no household that remains without the customary sweets on this day.
Choti Diwali is also a day for visiting friends, business associates and relatives, and exchanging gifts.
On Roop chaudas special sweet dishes are served as part of the midday meal
On this day, Hindus get up earlier than usual. The men rub their bodies in perfumed oils before bathing. Afterward, clean clothes are worn, some people wear new ones. That is why it is called roop chaudas. A large breakfast is enjoyed with relatives and friends.
Special sweet dishes are served as part of the midday meal. Houses are lit with oil lamps during the evening. A mix of bright and loud fireworks are set off.
In Goa and parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Deepavali is traditionally celebrated on Naraka Chathurdasi. The rest of India celebrates it on amavasya, which falls a day after narak chaturdasi.
Legend of Narakasur
In Goa, paper-made effigies of Narakasura, filled with grass and firecrackers are made. These effigies are burnt at around four o’clock in the morning and then firecrackers are burst. People return home to take a scented oil bath. Lamps are lit in a line. The women of the house perform aarti of the men. A bitter berry called kareet is crushed under the feet symbolising killing of Narakasura.
Legend has it that Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura on this day. The demon had held 16,000 girls captive. Lord Krishna freed them after which the girls expressed apprehensions that society would not accept them, so Lord Krishna married all of them.