As the name signifies the festival is celebrated on 14th day of the Hindu month of Kartik and people believe that one who performs this ritual can avoid going to Narak (Hell).  
Narak Chaturdashi is a day when devotees offer prayer and seek blessings of God Krishna and Goddess Kali to save their lives from evil and brighten their lives.
This festival is observed to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king, Narkasur. This day is also celebrated as the birthday of  Hanumanji or Hanuman Jayanti. Also, on this day Hanumanji reached Ayodhya to deliver the long-awaited message of Lord Rama’s return. Just like diwali people light diyas on chhoti diwali to fill their homes with light, worship Goddess Laxmi and offer prayers to Her.
In some regions of India it is believed that asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Krishna and Kali, and the festival is observed to commemorate the victory of divinity over evil.

The puja is performed with oil, flowers, and sandalwood. Coconuts are also offered to Hanuman and prasad of sesame seed, jaggery and rice flakes (poha) with ghee and sugar. The rituals of Narak Chaturdashi is strongly suggestive of the origin of Diwali as a harvest festival is performed.  

Delicacies are prepared from pounded semi-cooked rice to mark Narak Chaturdashi. 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 'buri nazar' (evil eye). The practice of applying kajal is quite popular in northern India.

People also light 5 diyas (earthern lamps) on the doorstep and near a pile of garbage to eliminate darkness.

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