Bengalis Celebrate A Desi Version Of Halloween One Day Before Diwali & Here’s Why

by Suchismita Pal
Bengalis Celebrate A Desi Version Of Halloween One Day Before Diwali & Here’s Why

Right before the onset of winter, we see grinning pumpkins taking over our social media feeds, courtesy Halloween. Well, the American-style festival of ghosts is a new trend in our country. Honestly, most kids belonging to the 90s, who’ve been born and brought up in India did not even know about Halloween in their childhood days. But, did you know that Bengalis have their very own celebration of ghosts that has been happening since generations? The festival called Bhoot Chaturdashi takes place a day before Kali Pujo, which falls around the same time of Diwali. During this festival, Bengalis light up 14 diyas and eat 14 kinds of foliages. Read on to know the interesting story.

Ghosts Before Diwali
Picture Credits: Pinterest

14 Lamps To Guide The 14 Souls Of Forefathers

Bengalis believe that a day before Kali Pujo, the line between the world of humans and the world of supernaturals fades out, and spirits move around nearby. Bhoot Chaturdashi takes place on the 14th day of Krishna Paksha, when Bengalis light up 14 earthen lamps to guide the souls of 14 generations of forefathers, known as Choddho Purush and also to keep away evil spirits. Choddho stands for ‘fourteen’ and Purush means gentleman’. The number ’14’ plays a very important role during Bhoot Chaturdashi.

Ghosts Before Diwali
Picture Credits: Pexels

To avoid getting possessed, Bengalis also gorge on 14 kinds of leafy greens, known as Choddo Shak. These 14 greens are jayanti, kalakasunde, seluka, hinche, ghetu, sushni, beto, keu, guruchi, salinch, sarson, neem, parval leaves and elephant foot yam. Some people eat the leaves as the ritual, while others have them as they taste super delectable together. After dusk, they light up 14 diyas to honour the forefathers.

Ghosts Before Diwali
Picture Credits: Wellness Munch

Also Read: 9 Ways To Celebrate Diwali In A Socially-Distanced Way

Naraka Chaturdashi, Dakini And Yogini

Bhoot Chaturdashi is also referred to as Naraka Chaturdashi sometimes. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Kali, Lord Krishna and Satyabhama had destroyed the asura king, Narakasura. Another belief of Bhoot Chaturdashi revolves around Ma Chamunda ( a form of Goddess Kali) who comes with 14 other ghosts to ward off evil spirits with the lighting up of 14 lamps. If you happen to visit Bengal during Kali Pujo, you’ll notice the idols of the demons Dakini and Yogini in front of the pandals of Goddess Kali.

Ghosts Before Diwali
Picture Credits: YouTube/ AMAR 2020

Bengalis Have Their Own Interesting Set Of Ghosts

Just like zombies, vampires and demons, Bengalis have their own set of bhoots like petnis, Brahmodaittyo, mecho bhoot, gecho bhoot, nishi, mambo bhoot, begho bhoot and more. The list is so long that Wikipedia has thrown up an entire article on the Ghosts of the Bengali Culture. Petni is a female ghost, and mecho bhoot loves to eat fish just like most other Bengalis. Brahmodaittyos are believed to be the ghosts of holy Brahmins. Some Bengalis worship Goddess Lakshmi as well during Kali Pujo to drive away anything unholy and unlucky, something which they call Olokkhi Biday.

Ghosts Before Diwali
Picture Credits:

Also Read: 5 Annual Diwali Activities We Are Missing Like Crazy This Year

Now that’s the desi version of the world-renowned Halloween. It is followed by the vibrant celebration of Kali Pujo and Diwali. This Diwali, let Ma Kali bless all of us and on Bhoot Chaturdashi, oust the biggest demon of the time, the harrowing COVID-19. Wishing y’all a very Happy Diwali in advance.