The bug of leftist liberalism which has bitten our nation causes us to look west and celebrate their festivities as our own while shunning our own festivities, which, though, similar in nature, could be more exciting. One such example of western influence on our culture is that of Halloween celebrations on 31st October every year.
Halloween also known as All Saints’ Day is celebrated in various western nations to pay tribute to the departed souls including saints, martyrs and all the faithful dead. The celebrations include church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead followed by the typical Halloween costume parties, where adults and children appear decked up as ghosts and other fear causing figures.
Inspired by the friends and relations residing in the west, the liberal ‘woke’ Indians too, indulge in such celebrations, which, they feel, will make them appear ‘cool’, ‘westernized’ and ‘modern’. Little do they realize that we, in India, have been celebrating our very own version of a similar festival since time immemorial, which does not necessitate pomp and show but is celebrated following all Indian traditions and customs and can tickle or ‘fear’ cells even better than does Halloween.
‘Bhoot Chaturdashi’ or the night of the Ghosts, as the name suggests is celebrated in Bengal on the 14th day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Kartik, as per the Saka era calendar. It is generally celebrated on the eve of Kali Puja/ Diwali. The Bhoot Chaturdashi night is the darkest night of the year and as per hindu myth, it is on this night that the evil spirits are most effective. It is said that 14 ancestors of a family arrive to meet their surviving relatives on this night. To guide these souls and keep away evil spirits, the family lights 14 lamps around their house. On this night, every corner of the house is illuminated. It is said to honour the tradition of fourteen generations of their ancestors. In many households, there is a tradition of cooking and eating fourteen different types of leafy vegetables known as ‘Çhoddo Shak’ in Bengali.
Another belief is that, on this night, Maa Kali appears in her fieriest form, as Maa Chamunda, to arouse fear within all the evil forces of the world and ward them away.
In North India the 14th day of ‘Krishnapaksh’ is celebrated as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’ to signify the slaying of the demon, Narakasura. There are three popular tales associated with the slaying of Narakasura. According to one, he was killed by Devi Kamakhya or Maa Kali after failing to complete the construction of a staircase from the bottom of the Nilachal hill to the temple before dawn as rooster, strangled by the devi, crowed when he was about to complete his construction, giving him the impression of dawn.
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The second legend states that Narakasura was beheaded by Sri Krishna with his Sudarshan Chakra, when the latter set out on a mission to kill him to free 16,000 women whom Narakasura had imprisoned. Sri Krishna later married the 16000 women whom he freed, to save them from social stigma. According to the third legend, Narakasura was killed by Sri Krishna’s consort, Satyabhama, who is believed to be the reincarnation of Bhudevi, Narakasura’s mother who was granted a boon of long life for his son and that he would die only when she wishes. During the battle with Narakasura, when Sri Krishna was ‘hurt’ by a ‘Shakti’ applied by Narakasura and he fell unconscious, the enraged Satyabhama fired arrows at Narkasura and killed him.
When we have all the reason and the rituals available to us to honour our dead, why do we need to look West and borrow their customs, which originated much after ours – we being the World’s oldest civilization? Is it the leftist liberal influence which is taking us far away from our roots, our culture and our Sanatan Dharma? It is time to ponder on this.
By Ranita Indic
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