The day just before Diwali is known as Choti Diwali or Narak Chaturdashi. Though Diwali holds a prominent significance, Choti Diwali can't be ignored. Also called as Roop Chaturdashi, Choti Diwali too has a great importance. There are lesser fireworks and fewer customs and traditions followed on this day, however, the enthusiasm or celebrating Diwali and joy is more.
It is on this day that people try to retain their bouts of joyousness for the next day. Rangolis are being made, homes are being decorated and sweets are exchanged on this day. Puja of Goddess Lakshmi and Ganesh is also performed in the evening on the occasion of Choti Diwali.
The legend behind celebrating Narak Chaturdashi is quite interesting. As per the Hindu mythology, a powerful demon named Narakasura was killed by Goddess Kali on this day. It is believed that Narakasura used to ill-treat women and misbehave with them which is why the Goddess killed him. In various parts of South India, the day of Narak Chaturdashi is reserved to worship the Goddess Kali. It is believed on this day she bestows power to all human beings who worship her.
A plethora of sweet dishes are prepared on this day to commemorate the festival. Ingredients like coconuts, oils, sandalwood, flowers, and oil are offered to the deity and special food for “Bhog” is prepared. A special sweet made with rice flakes, jaggery and sesame seeds along with ghee is prepared on this day.
|Choti Diwali Calendar|
In South India that victory of the divine over the mundane is celebrated in a very peculiar way. People wake up before sunrise prepare a paste by mixing Kumkum in oil, symbolizing blood and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon King that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.
In Maharashtra, a traditional early morning bath with oil and "Uptan" (paste) of gram flour and fragrant powders is a `must'. All through the ritual of baths, deafening sounds of crackers and fireworks can be heard as children get into the Diwali mode.
Afterward steamed vermicelli with milk and sugar or puffed rice with curd is served.