Hindu married women observe the festival of Karwa Chauth in India and the festivities are primarily restricted to the Northern and Western part of India in states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The Karwa Chauth festivities are aimed towards strengthening the bond between a husband and a wife.
Marriages in India are a sacred union of not just two individuals but also two families. Many such successful unions are testament to the fact that marriages are considered with utmost seriousness in India and are lifelong alliances. Karwa Chauth preparations include married hindu women putting on their best clothes, applying mehendi (henna) on their hands and wearing beautiful jewellery.
Fasts are kept by married hindu women and they pray for the long life of their husbands. Lot of tradition is associated with the festival of Karwa Chauth. Breaking the day long fasting after moon-sighting is one such long tradition which has been passed over from one generation to the other. The fasting ritual during Karwa Chauth signifies the unending love, respect and devotion of a wife towards her husband.
"Karwa Chauth festival will be celebrated on October 22, 2021." The term Karwa means an earthen clay pot and Chauth means fourth day. Karwa Chauth is celebrated on the fourth day after full moon in the month of Kartik that usually comes in the month of October-November. Karwa Chauth is usually celebrated 9 days before the popular festival of Diwali.
The auspicious Occasions of Karva Chauth festival is celebrated by married women of North India with complete dedication and so much fanfare in the form of fasting from sunrise to moon rise without eating a bit or drinking a drop. They observe the most difficult fast for the long life and prosperity of their husbands.
Food delicacies are an integral part of the festivities of Karwa Chauth. The occasion of Karwa Chauth strengthens the bonding between a husband and a wife and lot of hard work goes into the preparations related to Karwa Chauth. Delightful food recipes are prepared to mark the Karwa Chauth festival. Popular Karwa Chauth recipes include Kachori, Doodhachi kheer, Dahi Bhalle, Rasgula, Kaju Burfi, Malpua.
On the festive day married women wears special clothes usually red or pink saree/ suit, adorn themselves with best jewelry, colorful bangles, bindi and vermilion on the forehead and apply design patterns of heena (Mehendi) on both hands. Then they worship Shiva, Parvati,Ganesha and Kartikeya and a Kalash or Karwa (earthen pot made of clay) filled with sweets. In some communities women begin their fast by consuming food called "Sargi" given by their mother-in-law to eat before sunrise. In the evening women receives Baya or a basket containing sweets, fruits and saree meant for mother-in-laws. Then women from neighbourhood assembles to worship Goddess Gauri and an elderly woman of family narrates the story of Karwa Chauth. After that the rising of the moon is awaited and as it happens, women worship the it and see the moon and their husband through sieve. Then they receive a bit of food from their husbands and ends the day long fast.
The festival of Karwa Chauth is observed with a fasting tradition by the married women. So unique in nature women keeps the fast to pray for the welfare and long life of their husbands. Karwa Chauth festival brings married women more closer to their Mother-in-laws. Like other festivals, Karwa Chauth is also marked by gatherings by friends and relatives, preparing delicious food, exchanging of gifts and well wishes. All the decorations, jewelry, heena and joyous atmosphere signifies the splendor and happiness of a married life.
Unlike from past the celebrations of Karwa Chauth festival is changing with the times. The beauty parlours, jewelry shops, and restaurants have made this festive Occasions a full-fledged commercial activity. Unmarried girls have also started to observe the fast for getting their dream husband. Photographs and phone calls are doing away the need to wait till the moon rise to end the fast. This shows the changing and glorifying face of Karwa Chauth festival.
As per a legend in the Mahabharata, once Arjun had gone for worship to the Nilgiri Hills. Draupadi was struck with fear believing that she was alone in the forest with no one to protect her. She invoked Lord Krishna who appeared before her. On hearing her predicament Lord Krishna cited an example of Goddess Parvati. Parvati in a similar situation asked Lord Shiva's help. Lord Shiva explained to her that to ward off such apprehensions, a woman could observe a fast on Kartik Krishna Chaturthi as a remedy.
There is also the story of the Satyavan and Savitri. Savitri with her unparalleled love for her husband averted his untimely death. When Lord Yama, came to procure Satyavan's soul, Savitri begged him to grant him life. When he refused, she stopped eating and drinking and Yamraj finally relented. He granted her, her husband's life.