The festival of Karwa Chauth is one of the biggest one in northern India for women. It is celebrated by married women but many girls of marriageable age also take part in the celebration at their own will. KarwaChauth usually falls in October or November as it is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartik on the fourth day of Krishna Paksh or dark fortnight. Married women observe a fast for their husband’s longevity while unmarried girls fast to get a good match or get married soon. Even though fasting is quite common during festivals, Karwa Chauth is a rigorous fast as it is observed from sunrise to moonrise without even the consumption of water. Even so, almost all married women from states like Punjab, Haryana , Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan observe this fast for their husband.
When Karwa Chauth Is Celebrated ?
According to the Hindu calendar, Vrat of Karwa Chauth is observed on Krishna Paksha Chaturthi in the month of Kartika. It falls on the fourth day of the Karthik month, every year.
How To Celebrate Karwa Chauth ?
Begin preparing for the festivities a few days in advance. If you’re participating in the festival, you might want to buy make-up and cosmetics (shringar), adornments, jewelry and Karva lamps and plates. Local shops and bazaars decorate their stores with festive Karva Chauth products so you won’t have a hard time finding plenty of fun options.
Wake up before sunrise on the day of Karva Chauth. You should get up with your fellow celebrants before dawn and have something to eat and drink. If you’re partaking in the festivities in Uttar Pradesh, you’ll likely eat soot feni (a traditional Garbanzo bean and milk dish) with milk in sugar on the night before the celebration. This mixture allegedly helps to abstain from water the next day. The sargi(ਸਰਗੀ) in Punjab is a significant part of this pre sunrise meal.
The sargi is collection of sumptuous food items, and traditionally sent or offered to your mother-in-law by you, her daughter-in-law.
If you and your mother-in-law live in the same house, the pre-dawn meal will be prepared by your mother-in-law.
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Participating In The Festivities
Remember that the fast begins at dawn. This is a tough feat, but you won’t eat or drink throughout the day. And good news: you won’t have to perform household tasks, either .
Engage in community activities during Karva Chauth. In the morning, you’ll spend time with the other women in your community, and paint Henna on each other’s hands and feet. Before sunset, you’ll get together at one place (which can be someone’s house) to perform the rituals associated with the puja. Together,you’ll pray for your husbands’ well-being and longevity while passing bayas to one another.
The puja is a ritual during which people show reverence to a God, a spirit, or any other aspect connected to the Divine.
The baya is a gift basket with items such as Almonds, pieces of jewelry, and other items.
Get your husband (or fiancé) involved. Note that even though this festival is geared towards women, husbands actively participate. They traditionally shower their wives with gifts and treats in exchange for the tough fasting and prayers. Aside from celebrating the bond between two female friends, this holiday also serves as a reminder of the eternal bond between husband and wife .
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Reviewing The Historical Background
Know that women who got married left their own village or town to go live with their husband. They would share their in-laws’ home, and be completely cut off from their hometown. The tradition began when these newly wed women sought out a woman to befriend in their new environment. This bond would become tremendously important, and lead to this now widely-known festival .
The new friend would become a god-friend or god-sister in the newly wed’s life.
The women would then give each other strength, and pray for they husbands’ well-being.
Karva Chauth signifies the loving bond between the newly-wed and her god-sister, or god-friend.
God-sisters and God-friends were treated like family members for life.
A story about a highly devoted wife, Karva, who saved her husband’s life provides a narrative background to the celebration.
Be aware that this festival started in the northern and north Western parts of India. Though there are various hypotheses about the origin of this celebration, no one actually knows why it was only observed in northern India in the month of October. Here are a few widely accepted notions :
The land was usually dry by October after the monsoon season.
Military campaigns and long-distance travel usually occurred in October and November.
Women started to fast to pray for their husband’s (and sometimes fiancé’s) longevity and safety as they resumed their travels and obligations.
Be aware that the festival coincides with the wheat sowing season. The pots used to store wheat were large and earthen, and they were called karvas. The word Chauth means ‘forth’. There is some speculation that the festival also originated as a plea for good harvest.
Keep in mind that Karva Chauth occurs on the fourth day of the waning moon in October. The celebration is also known as the ‘Krishna paksha’ in the month of Kartik in accordance to the Hindu calendar. There isn’t a specific date, but it’s always sometime in October.
What Is The Importance Of Karwa Chauth?
In our culture, the Karwa Chauth is an important festival for all married women. From sunrise till moonrise, she keeps a fast for the safety of her husband. Keeping a fast without drinking water and eating any food all through the day seems to be a difficult one but the doting wives performs all these with much love and respect in their head and heart for their husbands.
The meaning of Karwa Chauth is offering Argya to the moon using an earthen pot known as Karwa on the Chaturthi of the Karthika month. It falls on the fourth day of the dark fortnight in the Kartika month every year. The origin of this festival is still very hazy but there are definitely some anecdotes associated with this festival. Some of the estimated stories are narrated below which shows the reason behind this celebration:
Tale of the Queen Veervati: Once upon a time there was a beautiful queen named Veervati who was the only sister among seven loving and caring brothers. In one of the Karwa Chauth she was at her parents place and began a strict fast after sunrise. In the evening she was waiting eagerly for the moonrise as she was suffering from hunger and thirst. The brothers were pained by seeing their sister in suffering. So, they created a mirror in a Pipal tree that made it look as if the Moon is up in the sky. Now, the moment Veervati broke her fast, the news that her husband is dead arrived. She kept on weeping and that’s when a Goddess arrived in front and revealed that she was tricked by her brothers. Now, she kept the Karwa Cahuth fast with full devotion and seeing the dedication, Yama, the lord of death restored life to her husband.
From the Pages of the Mahabharata: It is said that Draupadi also observed this Karwa Chauth. Once Arjuna, the one whom Darupadi loved the most went to the Nilgiri mountains for self-penalty and thus the rest of the brothers were facing challenges without him. Now, Draupadi remembered Lord Krishna in this situation to ask what should be done to resolve the challenges. Lord Krishna narrated a story of Goddess Parvati where in a similar situation she performed the Karwa Chauth rituals. So, Draupadi then followed the strict rituals of Karwa Chauth and Pandavas resolved their problems.
The Story of Karwa: There was a woman named Karwa who was deeply in love with her husband and this intense love gave her lots of spiritual powers. Once her husband was bathing in a river and that was when he was attacked by a crocodile. Now the courageous Karwa bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn and remembered Yama the Lord of death. Yama was seriously afraid of being cursed by such a devoted and doting wife and thus he sent the crocodile to hell and gave life back to her husband. The Story of Satyavan and Savitri: It is said that when Yama, the God of death came to acquire Satyavan’s life, Savitri begged in front of Yama to grant him life. But Yama was adamant and seeing that Savitri stopped eating and drinking and followed Yama as he took her husband away. Yama now said Savitri that she can ask of any other boon except the life of her husband. Savitri being a very clever woman asked Yama that she wants to be blessed with children. She is a devoted and loyal wife and won’t let any kind of adultery. Thus, Yama had to restore the life into Satyavan so that Savitri can have children.
Why We Celebrate Karwa Chauth?
If we see the popularity of this festival, we see the prominence of North and North Western regions of our country. A huge chunk of the male population of these regions were the soldiers of the Indian Army and officials of the Military Forces and for the safety of these people, women of these regions started fasting. These armed forces, policemen, soldiers, and military personnel protected the country from enemies and the women used to pray to the God for the longevity of their men. The time of this festival coincides with the initiation of the Rabi cropping season which is the wheat sowing season in these aforementioned areas. The women of the families fill the earthen pot or Karwa with wheat grains and offer to the God praying for a great Rabi season.
In ancient India, women of 10-13 years of age were married. Hardly they could enjoy their childhood or early teenage in such a marriage. Communication was also a big obstacle in those days. So, they couldn’t come to their parent’s home easily and it was also not considered good. So, you can say from an early age, a woman had to take the full responsibility of a new household. From cooking to cleaning, she was the in-charge. But, she was basically all alone away from the loved ones in an unknown house and without any friends too. Where would she go while feeling alone or missing home? So, to resolve this problem, the women started celebrating Karwa Chauth in a grand way where married women of the whole village and some nearby villages used to congregate in one place and spend the day in joy and laughter. They befriended each other and called each other God-friends or God-sisters. One can say that this festival started as a means of enjoyment and to forget the fact that they are alone at their in-laws place. They celebrated the union among themselves on this day and gifted each other bangles, lipsticks, sindoor, etc. to remind each other that there is always a friend somewhere