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A Celebration of Women, Roop Chaudas/Kali Chaudas - The Legend

Roop Chaudas
Roop Chaudas is a festival associated with Diwali, which is celebrated a day before Diwali. Diwali is the Indian festival of Lights. In ‘Roop Chaudas’, Roop represents Beauty and Chaudas represents the date 14.On this day, women beautify themselves. Roop Chaudas pooja is performed mainly by women to gain beauty or to enhance their beauty.
On Roop Chaudas Hindus undertake beauty treatments so as to look their best on Diwali day. According to the legends, the demon Narakasura was also slain on this day by lord Krishna and Satyabhama. They fought very aggressively and beheaded the demon on this day. Narak Chaturdashi marks the destruction of evil in the world and arrival of new lights. So, the earthen lamps are kept burning for several days. Since the demon Narakasura was slain on this day, it is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi or Kali Chaturdashi. It falls on the fourteenth day (Chaudas) of the fortnight of the Krishna Paksha, in the Hindu month of Kartika. There are two independent significances of this day. One is that it is traditionally used to beautify oneself before the major part of the coming festivities. The other is that it was that, on this day, lord Krishna killed the demon, Narakasura.
Kali Chaudas
Kali means Dark (evil) and Chaudas - Fourteenth. Thus, celebrated 14th day of Ashwin, Kali Chaudas is the day allotted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti and is believed that on this day Kali killed the wicked Raktavija. Also referred to as Narak-Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas is day to abolish laziness and evil which create hell in our life and shine light on life. The strength to protect others is referred as Kali, and if its used for God's work it is called Mahakali.
Kali Chaudous is also attached to the legend of Lord Hanuman. Hanumanji as a baby was very hungry. Whilst lying down he saw the sun in the sky and thought it was a fruit and went to pick it. He flew into the sky and put the whole sun in his mouth causing darkness throughout the entire universe. Lord Indra requested that Hanumanji return the sun. When Hanumanji refused, Lord Indra unleashed his vajra and knocked Hanumanji down to earth releasing the Sun.
On this day we offer poojan to Hanumanji as our Kuldev to protect us from Evil. The poojan is performed with oil, flowers, chandan and sindur. Coconuts are also offered to Hanumanji and prashad of Sesame seed, ladoos and rice with ghee and sugar.
The rituals of Kali Choudas is strongly suggestive of the origin of Deepavaali as an harvest festival is performed. On this day delicacies are prepared from pounded semi-cooked rice (called Poha or Pova). This rice is taken from the fresh harvest available at that time. This custom is prevalent both in rural and urban areas especially in Western India.
On this day, a head wash and application of kajal in the eyes is believed to keep away the kali nazar (evil eye). Some say that those who are into tantra, learn their 'mantras' on this day. Alternatively, people offer Nived (food) to the goddess that is local to where they are originally from. This goddess is called their 'Kul Devi', in order to cast off evil spirits. Some families also offer food to their forefathers on this day. The second day of Diwali is known as Kali Choudas in Gujarat, Rajasthan & few part of Maharashtra. This reverence is called "Kali Chaudas or Kal Chaturdasi". 
Courtesy : Internet

The Legend of Dhanteras - The Festival of Wealth

Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival. The festival, also known as "Dhantrayodashi" or "Dhanwantari Triodasi", falls on the auspicious thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Ashwin (October/November).
The word Dhanteras, Dhan stands for wealth. On Dhanteras, the "Owl" form of the Goddess Laxmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being.
An interesting story about Dhanteras Festival says that once the sixteen year old son of King Hima was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage as per his horoscope. On that particular fourth day of his marriage his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband's boudoir and lighted innumerable lamps all over the place. And she went on telling stories and singing songs.
When Yama, the god of Death arrived there in the guise of a Serpent his eyes got blinded by that dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the Prince's chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away. Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of "Yamadeepdaan" and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yama, the god of Death.
According to another popular legend, when the gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrita or nectar, Dhanvantari (the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras.
Dhanteras is considered one of the most auspicious occasions by Hindus & most Indian communities to buy Gold, Platinum & Jewelry.
We wish you a very prosperous Diwali & a happy Dhanteras
Photo Courtesy : Internet
Sources : Wikipedia.org, Experience

I am proud to sign the Indian National Pledge again today!

Indian National Pledge

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On this 69th Independence Day of India, Let us all pledge

India is my country and all indians are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
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Sambhav Karnawat
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