Karwa chauth is a day of fasting and prayer by married women for the long life of their Husband. The auspicious occasion is celebrated mostly in the northern part of India. Women celebrating Karwa Chauth fasting from sunrise to moon rise without eating a bit or drinking a drop. They do the most difficult fast for the long life and prosperity of their husbands.
On the festive day married women wear special clothes usually red or pink saree suit, adorn themselves with colorful bangles, bindi, jewelry, and vermilion on the forehead and apply Heena (Mehendi) on both hands. Then they worship Lord Shiv , Parvati,Ganesha and Kartikeya. They also worship 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 receive a basket (Bayana) containing sweets, fruits and saree from mother in laws. Then women from neighbourhood assemble 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 it and seethe moon and their husband through sieve. Then they receive a bit of food from their husband and end the day long fast.
Karwa Chauth’ is a ritual of fasting observed by married Hindu women seeking the longevity, well-being and prosperity of their husbands. It is popular amongst married women in the northern and western parts of India, especially, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
This festival comes 9 days before Diwali on ‘kartik ki chauth’, i.e., on the fourth day of the new moon immediately after Dusshera, in the month of ‘Karthik’ (October-November).
The term ‘Chauth’ means the ‘fourth day’ and ‘Karwa’ is an earthen pot with a spout – a symbol of peace and prosperity – that is necessary for the rituals. Hence the name ‘Karwa Chauth’.
Married women keep a strict fast and do not take even a drop of water. They get up early in the morning, perform their ablutions, and wear new and festive raiment. Shiva, Parvati and their son Kartikeya are worshiped on this day along with the 10 ‘karwas’ (earthen pots) filled with sweets. The Karwas are given to daughters and sisters along with gifts.
It is the most important and difficult fast observed by married Hindu women. (Unmarried women, widows, and spinsters are barred from observing this fast.) It begins before sunrise and ends only after offering prayers and worshiping the moon at night. No food or water can be taken after sunrise. The fast is broken once the moon is sighted and rituals of the day have been performed. At night when the moon appears, women break their fast after offering water to the moon.
In the evening, women dress up in special clothes, usually a red or pink sari or ‘lehenga-choli’ with gold woven ‘zari’ patterns. New brides often wear their bridal costume. All deck up in jewelry and wear ‘mehendi‘ or henna patterns especially on the hands. Decorative ‘bindis‘ on the forehead are a must for all women taking part in this celebration. Fasting women from all over the neighborhood gather in a group and narrate mythological stories that underscore the significance of Karwa Chauth. And, of course, all wives expect lavish gifts from their husbands!
The fast of Karwa Chawth truly sets the merry tone of the fun and frolic, festivity and feasting that come in good measure during Diwali — the biggest festival of the Hindus.
The Story of Satyavan and Savitri
Savitri, a princess, fell in love with a poor man called Satyavan. Narada Muni warned her not to marry Satyavan as he would die at an early age. He even told her when Satyavan was going to die. But Savitri was unmoved and married Satyavan.
On the day of Satyavan’s death, she saw that Yama himself had come to take him. She begged Yama not to take Satyavan. But Yama said that no one could stop death. Savitri followed them for miles and miles. Impressed with her determination, Yama said, “I will give you two boons; you can ask for anything except the life of Satyavan.”
For the first boon, Savitri asked for the well-being of her father-in- law. For the second she cleverly asked for a hundred sons. Without thinking, Yama granted her two boons. At this Savitri asked Yama to return her husband because without him, she could not have any sons. Defeated, Yama returned Savitri her husband.
The Story of Queen Veeravati
A 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 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 Yama refused, 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.
In Hindu Dharam, the goal of life is Self-realization or the attainment of God and fasting has been a much sought after path to attain this. All Hindu fast have a deep spiritual and religious significance. According to Hindu scriptures, fasting helps create an attachment with the God by establishing a harmonious relationship between the body and the soul. This is thought to be imperative for the well being of a human being as it nourishes both his/her physical and spiritual demands.
Karwa Chauth Fast
‘Karwa Chauth’ is a ritual of fasting observed by married Hindu women seeking the longlife, well-being and prosperity of their husbands. Married women keep a strict fast and do not take even a drop of water. It is the most important and difficult fast observed by married Hindu women. It begins before sunrise and ends only after offering prayers and worshiping the moon at night. No food or water can be taken after sunrise. The fast is broken once the moon is sighted and rituals of the day have been performed. At night when the moon appears, women break their fast after offering water to the moon.
Importance Of Fasting
Hindus believe it is not easy to unceasingly pursue the path of spirituality in one’s daily life. Therefore a worshiper must strive to impose restrains on to get the mind focused. And one form of restraint is fasting. However, fasting is not only a part of worship, but a great instrument for self-discipline too. It is a training of the mind and the body to endure and harden up against all hardships, to persevere under difficulties and not give up.
Henna Mehandi has its own significance in India and middle-east. It is like a tradition in India, and women used to adorn their hands and feet by using Henna Mehndi. Henna Mehandi is basically a paste that is obtained from the leaves of henna plant. It has a special place in the lives of married women (suhagans) who usually apply this on the occasions like Karwa Chauth.
Henna Mehandi is considered a symbol of good fortune for married women, in the Indian culture. Here is a belief in India that the women whose mehendi has left a dark color will get plenty of love and care from her husband. It is said that Henna Mehendi also gives a lesson to a new bride that she should do her best to delight her husband and in-laws, like Henna Mehendi itself do for her by providing its lovely color to her hands and feet.
Married Indian women usually get Henna Mehendi applied on their hands, before performing any ritual. Beautiful and fascinating designs are created on their hands and feet by expert mehandi artists. These designs range from the traditional floral patterns to geometrical shapes and abstract designs. According to most of the Indian women, Henna Mehndi not only colors their hands, but also their lives with joy and ecstasy.