Bollywood has played a vital role in making Karva Chauth a larger-than-life event. As the festival of colourful bangles and solah shringar dawns yet again, city women are out to indulge themselves with vim and vigour... Gifts, pampering and love For many progressive mother-in-laws, Karva Chauth is the time to pamper their daughters-in-law to the fullest. Interior designer Kavita Taneja, who is an indulgent mom-in-law, said, "I have three daughters-in-law and I enjoy seeing them dress in their finery and being pampered to the hilt. So, while I fast for my husband, I don't allow any of my girls to starve. I make sure that they have fruits and juices every one hour and give them gifts along with my blessings." Shopaholics' delight "A very important and traditional part of this festival is shopping," said Ankita Sharma, a newly married banker, who is celebrating her first Karva Chauth, and added, "My mother-in-law will take me out for shopping tomorrow and give me a pretty saree and a jadau set. So, I'm really excited and looking forward to this all girls' outing. The two of us will then go and buy some matching glass bangles and bindis to complete the look." Foodies' day out Interestingly, every festival in India is incomplete without a vast array of food. No wonder, even the tough Karva Chauth fast is associated with a variety of food. A hospital administrator, Rajni Sangtani shared, "My daughter Rashmei and daughter-in-law Astha are newly married and I'm preparing a huge variety of cuisines, so that they can indulge themselves. My bahu likes dal pakwan and sewai ki kheer, so these two will definitely be on the menu, along with dahi idli and appam. For the sargi ritual, I will get feni, dry fruits, matthi etc for my bahu." Body polish, organic facials and more In an endeavour to look stunning, women are leaving no stone unturned. This is where luxurious beauty treatments come in, whatever the price. Beauty head of a salon, Sapna Saxena, said, "For Karva Chauth, we have quite a few bookings for body polish, organic facials, skin brightening, body ubtan, aromatic massages, traditional makeup, mehendi and hairstyles. On an average, the ladies will be shelling out `4000-5000 for these treatments. But the result is worth it, so nobody minds paying."
The fast of Karwa Chauth is kept 9 days before Diwali. It falls on the fourth day of the Kartik month by the Hindu calendar (fourth day of the waning moon or the dark fortnight).
Karwa Chauth is considered one of the most important fasts observed by the married Hindu women. On this day the women pray for the welfare and long life of their husbands. The festival is followed mainly in the northern parts of the country.
Married women eat food early in the morning, before sunrise. They are not supposed to eat or even drink water during the day. In the evening the ladies listen to the Karwa Chauth Katha (the legend). The fast is over after the moonrise.
The Puja Process
The pooja preparations start a day in advance. Married women buy the shringar or the traditional adornments and the other pooja items like the karwa, matthi, heena etc.
Early in the morning they prepare food and have it before sunrise. The morning passes by in other festive activities like decorating hand and feet with heena, decorating the pooja thali and meeting friends and relatives.
In the late afternoon women gather at a common place like temple or a garden or someones' place who has arranged the pooja. An elderly lady or the pujarin narrates the legend of Karwa Chouth.
The essentials of this gathering and listening of the Karwa chauth story , a special mud pot, that is considered a symbol of lord Ganesha, a metal urn filled with water, flowers, idols of Ambika Gaur Mata, Goddess Parwati and some fruits, mathi and food grains. A part of this is offered to the deities and the storyteller.
Earlier an idol of Gaur Mata was made using earth and cowdung. Now just an idol of Goddess Parwati is kept. Every one lights an earthen lamp in their thalis while listening to the Karwa story. Sindoor, incense sticks and rice are also kept in the thali.
At this time the women wear heavy saris or chunries in red , pink or other bridal colors, and adorn themselves with all other symbols of a married women like, nose pin, tika, bindi, chonp, bangles, earrings etc.
Once the moon rises, the women see its reflection in a thali of water, or through a dupatta or a sieve. They offer water to the moon and seek blessings. They pray for the safety, prosperity and long life of their husbands. This marks the end of the day long fast.
The Legend of Karwa Chauth
The Story of Queen VeeravatiA long long time ago, there lived a beautiful girl by the name of Veeravati. She was the only sister of her seven loving brothers, who was married to a king. On the occasion of the first Karva Chauth after her marriage, she went to her parents' house. After sunrise, she observed a strict fast. However, the queen couldn't stand the rigors of fasting and was desperately waiting for the moon to rise. The seven brothers who loved her dearly, were very disturbed watching the distress of their sister and decided to end her fast by deceiving her. Then the brothers reflected a mirror through Pipal tree leaves. The sister, taken it as moon rise, broke the fast and took food. However, the moment the queen ate her dinner, she received the news that her husband, the king, was seriously ill.
The queen rushed to her husband's palace and on the way, she met Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. Parvati informed her that the king had died because the queen had broken her fast by watching a false moon. However, when the queen asked her for forgiveness, the goddess granted her the boon that the king would be revived. But to achieve this, she would have to undertake the Karva Chauth fast under strict rituals, then only her husband would come top life. Thus, by strictly following all the rituals of Karva chauth, queen Veeravati relivened her husband.
The Legend of Mahabharata
The belief in this fast and its associated rituals goes back to the pre-Mahabharata times. Draupadi, too, is said to have observed this fast. Once Arjun went to the Nilgiris for penance and the rest of the Pandavas faced many problems in his absence. Draupadi, out of desperation, remembered Lord Krishna and asked for help. Lord Krishna reminded her that on an earlier occasion, when Goddess Parvati had sought Lord Shivas guidance under similar circumstances, she had been advised to observe the fast of Karva Chauth. Draupadi followed the instructions and observed the fast with all its rituals. Consequently, the Pandavas were able to overcome their problems. On this day, fasting women listen to Karva Chauth legends with rapt attention.
The Story of Satyavan and Savitri
There is the story of the Satyavan and Savitri. 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. To this day, Karva Chauth is celebrated with great faith and belief.
The Legend of Karva
According to another legend, a woman named Karva was deeply devoted to her husband. One day while bathing, he was caught by a crocodile. Karva came running and bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn. She then went to Yama, the Lord of the death, and requested him to send the offending crocodile to hell. When Yamarefused, she threatened to curse him. Afraid of the power of a devoted wife, Yama readily accepted and sent the crocodile to Yamalok or hell, and blessed Karva's husband with long life.
Origin and Significance
The fast of Karwa Chauth is of particular importance to all Hindu married women in India. They believe that the festival ensures prosperity, longevity and well-being of their husbands. The origin of this festival was based on a very sweet and noble idea. Though this idea has lost its true sense as today the whole outlook of this festival has changed.In the ancient time, girls used to get married at a very early stage, and had to go and live with their in-laws in other villages. After marriage, if she faces any problem with her in-laws or her husband, she would have no one to talk to or seek support from. There used to be no telephones, buses and trains long ago. Her own parents and relatives would be quite far and unreachable. Thus the custom started that, at the time of marriage, when bride would reach her in-laws, she would befriend another woman there who would be her friend or sister for life. It would be like god-friends or god-sisters. Their friendship would be sanctified through a small Hindu ceremony right during the marriage.
Once the bride and this woman had become god-friends or god-sisters, they would remain so all their lives and recognize the relation as such. They would also treat each other like real sisters.
Later in life, if she faces any difficulty related to her husband or in-laws, she would be able to confidently talk or seek help from each other. Thus, Karwa Chauth was started to as a festival to celebrate this relationship between the once-brides and their god-friends (god-sisters). Fasting and praying for husband came later and is secondary. It was probably added, along with other mythical tales, to enhance the festival. The husband would always be associated with this festival, because the day of starting this holy friendship between two god-sisters was essentially the day of bride's marriage to him. Thus, praying and fasting for him by his wife during a celebration of her relationship with the god-friend would be quite logical.
Hence, the festival of Karwa Chauth was to renew and celebrate the relationship between god-friends (god-sisters). It had a tremendous social and cultural significance when world was not having the way to communicate and move around easily.
Regional Significance of Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth festival has an extraordinary observance rate among married women in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This is a significant day for married women as they keep fast for the long-life and well-being of of their husbands. The way of celebrating Karwa Chauth vary from each other on regional basis.Punjab:The festival of Karwa chauth is one of the most important festival for married women in Punjab. Few days before this auspicious festival, all the markets in Punjab gets flooded with various accessories and decorative items including bangles, beautiful sarees, embroidered suits, stalls of sweets and eatables. Number of artists from different cities like Agra, Jaipur, Delhi, etc gather here with their special mehndis to decorate hands of women. In some parts of Punjab, young damsels too keep the fast in the hope of winning a loving husband.
Rajasthan:Among the women of Rajasthan, the festival of Karwa Chauth has its own meaning. The women make the karwas with mud and fill them with rice and wheat. They wear their wedding-day dress or chunris on this auspicious day. Karwa Chauth generally falls on the full moon day of the month Jyeshtha. This is also known as 'Vata Purnima'. Interestingly, the woman who observes this fast is not only blessed with welfare of her husband but also wins the same husband for the next seven births.
Uttar Pradesh:In Uttar Pradesh, the married women keep the fast and pray for the long-life of their husband. They decorate the walls of their home with drawings of Gauri Ma, the moon and the sun. They also make the karwa with mud and perform the evening puja with earthen lamps. Before looking at the moon, the women pray to the figurines at their doorstep.
Other States:Other Indian states also observes this fast. In Gujarat, many women observe this fast with great spirit. In Madhya Pradesh also, most of them follow the traditions of the women from Uttar Pradesh. In all these states the first 'Karva Chauth' of any new bride is a very important festival. New clothes, new jewelery and gifts from both mother and mother-in-law are received. The wedding day outfits are worn once again, mehndi is applied and the family gathers to celebrate it with them. There are many similar stories associated with this festival in different parts of India. In Maharashtra this particular fast is not very popular but a similar one called 'Vaat Savitri' is kept by married women.
Regional Names of Karwa Chauth
According to Indian tradition, marriage introduces the responsibilities, privileges and rights of a husband and wife towards each other. In a traditional Hindu family, husband is the earner and the protector of the family whereas the various duties of a wife involves proper care, nurturing, education and continuity of cultural heritage of the family for future generations. Indian women keep various fasts to show her respect and affection for her husband. They pray for a healthy and prosperous marital life. In different regions, these special days are known by different names. Some of them are mentioned below.
Karwa ChauthKarwa Chauth is the most popular festival among married women. It is widely celebrated throughout North India. Having an extraordinary observance rate among married Hindu women, the fast of Karwa Chouth is undertaken by married woman seeking the welfare and prosperity of their husbands.
Region: North India in states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Delhi and others.
Vat-Savitri PujaThis festival is generally observed on Vata Poornima, the full moon day of Jyestha. On the auspicious day of Vat Savitri puja, married women pay honor to the Banyan tree and Savitri, the legendary chaste wife who fought with death to recover the life of her husband.
Teej is another Hindu festival that is celebrated be keeping a fast for the entire day. The word for fasting i.e. Upavasa itself means to move near to the Supreme. The festival shows that women religiously participate in the rituals in order to achieve an effective marital life.
Region: Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.
As the name implies, Mahashivratri is a day to recall the legendary tale of the Shiv lingam and about the legends and beliefs associated with Shivratri. The festival is mainly celebrated by married women as well as unmarried girls looking for a perfect match.
Region: Throughout India (major states include Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharastra)
The festival of Gangaur is held about a fortnight after Holi to honor Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Girls move towards the temple of Gauri for the ceremonial bath of the deity who is then bedecked with flowers.
All the married women perform the pooja of Varalakshmi Vratham and get the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi for a happy and prosperous marriage. There is no restriction of caste and creed for the celebration of this festival.
Region: South India states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka
Karadaiyan Nombu an extremely important festival for all the married women of Southern region in India. The festival is known for its religious and philosophical connotations. Nonbu is to observe certain norms and offer our prayers accordingly.
Region: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.