English meaning of the festival
Narak refers to hell and Chaturdashi means fourteen. However, Narak may also be an abbreviation of Narakasura – a demon who was killed by Lord Krishna on Chaturdashi (14th).
How the date is decided annually
The day before Diwali, known as Narak Chaturdashi. It is the fourteenth day in the dark phase of Karthik.
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
Prayer on Narak Chaturdashi has the potential to save a person from the terrible Yama Raja (the God of death).
How to observe/practice
Devotees take the morning bath before sunrise on this day. Devotees especially bathe with oil in the water. They perform the Shri Luxmi Narayan prayer. They offer perfume/sandal paste dot, agarbati, aarthi, sweet dish/fruit, and water in the prayer. They also do three offerings of water with thil to each of the 14 names of Yamaraj (yamaaya namah, dharmaraajaya namah, mrityave namah, antakaaya namah, vaivastaaya namah, kaalaaya namah, sarvabhutakshaaya namah, audumbaraya namah, dadhnaaya namah, neelaaya namah, paramesthine namah, vrikodaraaya namah, chitraaya namah, chitraguptaaya namah). One diya (lamp) should be lit under a tulsi.