Saturday, October 21, 2006

Narakchaturdashi

The second day of Dwali is called NARKA-CHATURDASHI or CHOTI DIWAL which falls on the fourteenth day of the month of Ashwin. The story goes that the demon king Narakasur ruler of Pragjyotishpur ( a province to the South of Nepal) after defeating Lord Indra had snatched away the magnificent earrings of Aditi, the Mother Goddess and imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the gods and saints in his harem. On the day previous to Narakachaturdashi, Lord Krishna killed the demon and liberated the imprisoned damsels and also recovered those precious earrings of Aditi. As a symbol of that victory Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the demon king's blood. Krishna returned home in the very early morning of the Narakachaturdashi day. The womenfolk massaged scented oil to his body and gave him a good bath to wash away the filth from his body. Since then the custom of taking bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice specially in Maharashtra.

In South India that victory of the divine over the mundane is celebrated in a very peculiar way. People wake up before sunrise prepare blood by mixing Kumkum in oil and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon King Narkasura, that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.

In Maharashtra also, traditional early baths with oil and "Uptan" (paste) of gram flour and fragrant powders are a `must'. All through the ritual of baths, deafening sounds of crackers and fireworks are there in order that the children enjoy bathing. Afterwards steamed vermiceli with milk and sugar or puffed rice with curd is served.

Another legend is about King Bali of the nether world mighty power had become a threat to the gods. In order to curb his powers Lord Vishnu in the guise of a Batu Waman- a small boy- visited him and begged him to give him only that much land which he could cover with his three steps. Known for his philanthropy King Bali proudly granted him his wish. That very moment that small boy transformed himself into the all-powerful Lord Vishnu. With his first step Lord Vishnu covered the entire heaven and with the second step the earth and asked Bali where to keep his third step. Bali offered his head. Putting his foot on his head Vishnu pushed him down to the underworld. At the same time for his generosity Lord Vishnu gave him the lamp of knowledge and allowed him to return to earth once a year to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance and spread the radiance of love and wisdom.

This Narakachaturdashi day therefore is dedicated to lights and prayers heralding a future full of joy and laughter.

For me this day always brings back the fondest memories! The first thing on the agenda was bursting a 'rassi bomb' to wake up the society, and there was always a competition who would be the First!! Well, I would wake up early, but ALWAYS took a LOT of time to put light to the 'rassi bomb', once that done I would run pell-mell into the house and crouch till the darn thing went off!! And for the remainder of the festival, content myself with 'flowerpots', 'chakris' !!
My favourite savoury item in Diwali (and otherwise) is Chivda. I can eat it for any meal!! And any quantity too!! It is low calorie compared to other sweets and savoury items!And ofcourse it is easy to make....

You need :
1 lbThin Poha
1/2 cup Peanuts
1/2 cup dalia
5 tsp sesame seeds
10 -12 green chilies (vary to taste)
Few curry leaves
1 spn asafetida
1 spn. Mustard seeds
1 spn. Cumin seeds
1 spn. lightly roasted & roughly ground corriander (cilantro seeds)
Salt to taste
2- 2.5 spn. sugar (optional)
5 spns. oil

In small lots, microwave the poha (spread out in a microwave safe dish, set on high heat for 30 secs. quick toss them around, run for another 30 secs.) This will make the poha crispy and light! Let the poha cool, then break it in two, if they snap easily.... it is crisp and ready to use.
One word of caution... do not run the poha for straight 60 secs. if the heat is too much, they will curl up.
Heat oil in a big wok / kadhai. Add mustatd seeds, as they pop, add cumin seeds, peanuts, dalia, asafetida, chilies, curry leaves , sesame. fry well tll the peanuts are a lovery brown colour and the chilies and curry leaves turn crispy.
now switch off the heat and add the poha. Mix thoroughly.Add salt and Sugar. (Be careful of the salt, a little goes a long way!!!!)
Let the chivda cool down completely, then store in an air tight container.
*You can add fried cashewnuts and dry coconut bits in the chivda.
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2 comments:

  1. Don't mind but the 'Narakachaturdashi' is celebrated on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin and not Karthik. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Grafikpun : Thanx, I shall correct that! :)

    ReplyDelete

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