On the fourth day of the “ Kartik” month as per the Hindu lunar calendar, there comes a unique one day festival called Karwa Chauth. Why we call it unique is because, on this day, married women observe a fast without any food and water and pray for their husband’s long, prosperous and healthy life.
Karwa Chauth : Meaning and Origin
Karwa Chauth Indian Festival
Karwa chauth, when translated means an earthen pot, used to sow seeds and also a lamp, chauth stands for the fourth day after the full moon. Put together, Karwa Chauth is a festival on the fourth day after the full moon, in which a lamp is shown to the moon and long life of the husband is prayed for. Women fast without food and water on this day and break their fast only after praying to the moon.
It is also to earmark a new sowing season and hoping for a good harvest.
Karwa Chauth Stories
There are quite a few stories which are attributed to why this festival is celebrated.
- Legend has it that the only sister of seven brothers, was observing this fast at her father’s place. Unable to see the hungry sister’s plight, the brothers showed her an artificial light and made her pray to the same and break her fast. As the ritual of breaking the fast only after seeing the moon was not observed, the husband of the sister fell seriously ill and only after the sister prayed to Yama ( the lord of death), and Parvati ( Lord Shiva’s consort), was her husband revived. From that day on, the sister observed the fast of Karwa Chauth steadfastly keeping all the rituals in mind. Her husband lived a long and prosperous life.
- As per another folk lore, when Savitri’s husband Satyavan passed away, Savitri refused to consume any food and water until Lord Yama revived her dead husband. Till date, married women observe this fast with great faith.
- A lady named Karwa was very dedicated to her husband. One day, while the husband was having a bath in the pond, a crocodile came and caught her husband. Karwa immediately tied the crocodile with thread and prayed to Lord Yama to punish the erring crocodile and release her husband from the clutches of death. Seeing the steadfast resolve of a devoted wife and scared that she may curse him Lord Yama decided to punish the crocodile and granted Karwa’s husband a long life.
The roots of this festival may be based in any of the above stories, it is easy to understand the importance this festival holds in the lives of married women and is hence celebrated with much fanfare, devotion and eagerness.
Karwa Chauth Puja, Rituals and dressing up
The festival is largely celebrated in the Northern regions of India and some parts of central India. The fast is observed by mostly married women, or girls engaged to get married.
The first fast after one’s marriage holds special importance and is celebrated with much zeal and vigour. On the day of the fast, all the women folk get up before sunrise and after bathing and offering the prayers to the Gods, they partake a meal of dry fruits, milk and goodies. This is called the “sargi” and is lovingly made by the mother in laws for their daughter in laws.
Through the day, the ladies keep themselves busy with puja preparations and getting henna applied on their hands and getting their special attire ready for the evening puja.
Karva Chauth Mehendi Application
Often the mother of the girl sends a special gift with sweetmeats, fruits and a sari for the mother in law.
Around dusk, the ladies get ready in their bridal finery, or bright rich coloured saris. All the adornments that a married lady is supposed to wear are put on – bangles, colourful bindis, anklets, vermillion. Usually a community puja is organized at this time, where all the fasting ladies gather and pray to Goddess Parvati for their husbands long lives, offer her flowers, vermillion etc. and listen to the legends relating to the fast, with rapt attention.
Karva Chauth Puja 2012
After the community puja, the ladies head home and wait for the moon to rise. At the first sighting of the moon, the lady offers moon water, flowers and diya.
Karva Chauth Puja 2012 Indian Festival
She sees the moon through the sieve and then through the same sieve sees her husband’s face. After offering prayers to the moon, the fast comes to an end and the lady drinks water and eats specially prepared vegetarian meals.
Karwa Chauth is deeply rooted in ones’ beliefs and is a colorful festival and holds special place in all married women’s’ hearts.