How to vote in an Indian election
Here's a video explaining everything that happens inside a polling station - and what happens to your vote after that:
Three dead amid violence in the first polling phase
At least three people died on Thursday, as tens of millions of Indians flocked to the polls to vote in the first phase of the general election.
Two men died amid clashes at polling booths in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh while one person died in Indian-administered Kashmir as protests broke out in Kupwara district after polling, according to local media.Long queues dominated the first phase of polling, as voters turned up in high numbers across 18 states and two union territories.
The election commission said that turnout on Thursday was more or less on par with polling during the first phase the 2014 polls.
The hilly north-eastern state of Tripura recorded the highest voter turnout at 81.8% while the eastern state of Bihar saw the lowest at 50%.
In the 2014 election, overall voter turnout was about 66%.
On Thursday, it was ready, set, vote!
Tens of millions of Indians voted on the first day of a general election that is being seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Indians in 20 states and union territories cast their ballots in 91 constituencies.
The seven-phase vote to elect a new lower house of parliament will continue until 19 May. Counting day is 23 May.
Hundreds of voters began to queue up outside polling centres early Thursday morning for the first of seven days of voting over six weeks. Their concerns ranged from jobs and unemployment to India's role in the world and national security.
The states and union territories that went to the polls were: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep.
Polling in some states, such as Andhra Pradesh and Nagaland, concluded in one day. But other states, such as Uttar Pradesh, will hold polls in several phases.
On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination
India's main opposition party president Rahul Gandhi has filed his nomination in his family stronghold Amethi, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
He travelled to the district office in a 3km procession where he was cheered by thousands of party supporters.
He has been the MP of the constituency for 15 years and is campaigning for a fourth term.
Why does this matter?
Rahul Gandhi's performance in Amethi - a seat he has already won three times - will be closely watched.
In 2014, he won by a majority of a little over 100,000 votes - which was seen as being too close given that the constituency is seen as a family stronghold. He is up against his same rival from then - BJP MP Smriti Irani who led a spirited campaign against him.
Ms Irani has wasted no time attacking Mr Gandhi.
His decision to also contest from Wayanad in the southern state of Kerala has been called an "insult" by Ms Irani. Some of his critics have said that the second nomination showed that he was afraid that he would lose in Amethi, although the party says it is actually to allow the party to build a base in the south.
Be that as it may, losing Amethi is just not an option for Mr Gandhi. There is way too much at his stake - most of all his reputation and credibility as a leader.
His supporters are confident though. One of them told the BBC's Geeta Pandey who is at the rally, that this time Mr Gandhi would win by 500,000 votes and no-one would vote for Ms Irani.
On Tuesday... Rahul Gandhi faced an unusual battle
India's main opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, is up against candidates who have the same name as him - well, almost.
He will be running against a 30-year-old local politician named Raghul Gandhi in Wayanad in the southern state of Kerala.
But there is a third candidate named Rahul Gandhi who has also thrown his hat in to the ring.
Why does this matter?
Rival parties are known to put up candidates with similar or same names to confuse voters, says BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi, adding that this happens frequently in other constituencies as well.
But Raghul Gandhi told the BBC that he was not in the race because his name was uncannily similar to that of his rival. Both filed their nomination papers on 4 April.
"He is a national leader and I am a small state-level leader. I am a serious candidate," he said.
The BBC was unable to contact the third candidate.
Wayanad is considered a Congress party stronghold - so it may not be unusual to find people named after party leaders. Raghul Gandhi's father was a member of the party and his sister is named Indira, after the former prime minister.
Does Raghul Gandhi think he will win? "I expect to get my money back. For that, I should get one third of the votes of the winning candidate. That will be victory for me," he said.
On Monday, the BJP released its election manifesto
The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its election manifesto, which promised a slew of welfare schemes to India's farmers - a key vote bank in a country where nearly half the population is engaged in agriculture.
It promises to expand a farmers' income scheme that targeted only small farmers (those who owned up to two hectares of land) to include all farmers in the country - they would each receive 6,000 rupees ($86; £66) yearly.
The manifesto pledges to provide a pension for small farmers and traders; and the party has renewed its earlier promise of doubling farmers' incomes by 2022.
National security is a major part of the manifesto - India's home minister Rajnath Singh repeatedly referred to India's "zero tolerance against terror" while speaking after the manifesto was released.
The document includes other welfare measures, from permanent housing for the poor to piped water in every household to water management and recycling.
Why does this matter?
It isn't surprising that the BJP manifesto targets farmers because Indian agriculture, blighted by a depleting water table and declining productivity, is in crisis. And protests by farmers have regularly made headlines in the past five years.
Like the Congress, the BJP has also promised to reserve 33% of seats in the parliament and state legislatures for women. Both parties had committed to this ahead of past elections as well.
Some have said the manifesto makes no major promises or announcements that will be hard to deliver.
The BJP's manifesto also underlines some of the party's core pledges, which are popular with its right-wing supporters. These include cancelling the "special status" granted to Kashmir by the Constitution; and building a Hindu temple at a disputed site where a mosque once stood but was demolished by Hindu mobs in the early 1990s.