Naraka Chaturdashi, also known as Chhoti Diwali, is the second day of Diwali celebrated a day after Dhanteras or Dhanatrayodashi. This year Naraka Chaturdashi falls on Thursday, November 3.
The festival is also celebrated differently in various parts of the country and is known by many names such as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas, Hanuman Puja and Yama Deepam.
The second day of festivities coincides with the fourteenth day of the fortnight of the lunar month which is where the term ‘Chaturdashi’ comes from and ‘Naraka’ refers to hell.
Some Hindus call it a day to pray for the peace of ancestors’ departed souls, to light their way in their journeys of cyclic afterlife.
Legend has it, that on this day, lord Krishna had emerged victorious freeing 16,000 imprisoned princess kidnapped by Narakasura (a demon).
Some North Indian households celebrate Roop Chaudas on this day where women bathe before sunrise, while lighting a Diya (lamp) in the bath area believing it to enhance their beauty.
This is a fun ritual that young girls enjoy as part of festivities where Ubtan is applied by the women, made up of special gram flour mixed with herbs for cleansing and beautifying themselves.
Hanuman Puja is also performed in some parts of India especially in Gujarat on the second day of festivities. It coincides with the day of Kali Chaudas. It is believed that spirits roam around on the night of Kali Chaudas, and Hanuman, who is the deity of strength, power, and protection, is worshipped to seek protection from the spirits.
Diwali is also celebrated to mark the return of Rama to Ayodhya after defeating the demon-king Ravana and completing his fourteen years of exile. The devotion and dedication of Hanuman pleased Rama so much that he blessed Hanuman to be worshipped before him. Thus, people worship Hanuman the day before Diwali’s main day.
Kali Chaudas is observed mostly in western India during Chaturdashi Tithi during Diwali festivity. The rituals of Kali Chaudas involve visiting the crematorium during midnight for offering Puja to the Goddess of darkness and to Veer Vetal.
Yama Deepam is observed on the second day of Diwali where a diya (earthen lamp) is filled with sesame oil and lit at back of homes facing in the southern direction. This is believed to please Yama, the god of death, and to ward off untimely death.
Also read: Green Diwali Ideas: 5 Innovative ways to celebrate pollution-free Diwali
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