Popularly known as the
Indian Halloween, Bhoot Chaturdashi (‘bhoot’ means ‘ghost’ and
‘chaturdashi’ is the 14th night of the moon’s cycle) is observed on the
night before Kali Puja.
The Bhoot Chaturdashi rituals coincide
with Yama Chaturdashi and Naraka Chaturdashi (as celebrated in other
parts of India). Observed primarily in the eastern parts of India, it is
said that on this night the dead walk among the living. The evil
spiritual powers are seemingly heightened on this night. In order to
keep the evil spirits at bay, people ritualistically observe Bhoot
Chaturdashi every year.
Bhoot Chaturdashi is known for the famous chauda shaak, or fourteen types of greens, where the shaak are
cooked together. It is compulsorily eaten for lunch. Before being
cooked, the fourteen are soaked in water and that water is sprinkled
across the household. For chauda shaak, the fourteen can be any fourteen, and neither is there any specific method of cooking.
At dusk, earthen lamps or diyas are
lit in the fourteen darkest corners of the household. This is done to
ward off evil spirits as well as prevent them from entering the house.
Folklore says that the spirits of forefathers come back to the household
on this night. Hence, these lamps also serve to guide the spirits of
Food for thought
many traditions, Bhoot Chaturdashi is also dying a slow death. The
fast-paced urban life and a cosmopolitan outlook has helped the
city-bred Bengali to adopt Dhanteras and other rituals (no harm in that,
absolutely) but then we also moving away from our roots.
Two varieties of chauda shaak
Written by: Agnivo Niyogi for Team M3.tv