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Karwa Chauth – With Love For My Husband

Karwa Chauth – With Love For My Husband

A tradition of faith, Karwa Chauth is a full-fledged festival in modern times. Celebrating Karwachauth, married Hindu women observe a day-long fast for the long life of their husband. Women undertake this rigorous fast with full devotion and enthusiasm. By observing Karva Chauth vrat, women express love for their husband and rejuvenate their married life. In modern India, Karwa Chauth is more like Valentine’s Day for married couples – a day to express love and re-affirm marital vows.

It is interesting to observe that the popularity of age-old festival of Karwa Chauth is rising every passing year. Even in today’s jet fast age, modern Indian women have maintained their faith in ancient Indian scriptures and tradition. Modern day women observe the fast by carrying out all the prescribed rituals with full devotion.

When is Karwa Chauth celebrated?

The festival of Karwa Chauth is celebrated on the Kartik ki chauth. This means the fourth day (chauth) of the waning moon or dark fortnight of auspicious Hindu month of Kartik. According to Gregorian calendar, Kartik corresponds to October- November. The day of Karwachauth comes about nine days before the festival of Diwali.

Legends behind Karwa Chauth

A popular legend behind Karwa Chauth narrates the story of Savitri and Satyavan. It is said that when Lord Yamaraj came to take Satyavan’s life, Savitri desperately pleaded to Yamraj to spare her husband, but Yamraj refused. Savitri then undertook a rigorous fast and vowed not to eat or drink until Yamraj granted her wish. Yamaraj was moved by Savitri’s devotion and felt compelled to bestow life to Satyavan. Since then, women have been observing Karwa Chauth fast for the long life of their husband.

According to another widely acknowledged legend, once queen Veeravati was made to break her fast by looking at the false moon shown by her seven loving brothers who could not watch their dearest sister remain hungry for so long. But as soon as Veeravati had dinner, her husband died. Veeravati rushed to her husband’s palace on receiving the news. On her way, Goddess Parvati explained to Veeravati that her husband died because she did not observed the fast properly. Veeravati begged forgiveness and on Parvati Ma’s advice, completed the rigorous Karwa Chauth fast under strict conditions. Pleased with the queen’s devotion, Goddess Parvati revived her husband’s life.

Preparing for Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth is celebrated as a grand festival in modern times. Elaborate preparations are made for the occasion days for the festival. While some wear their wedding attire, others buy new sarees for the big day. Matching glass bangles, bindis, jewellery, footwear etc are purchased to complete the ensemble. However, the most colorful scene of the festival can be observed on the eve of Karwa Chauth when women beeline before mehendiwalas for the most intricate henna pattern on their palm. Long queues for mehendi can be seen till the middle of the night. Husbands’ and children come along with women making the marketplace feistier.

Karwa Chauth Fast

Karwa Chauth fast preparations are made before dawn. Suhagins (married Hindu women) wake up at around 4 am and take their bath. After performing daily prayers women in the family gather together and consume food items collectively called ‘sargi’. Apart from food, the sargi also includes fruits and sweets. Traditionally, the sargi is given to the woman by her mother-in-law. After the sargi, women observing Karwa Chauth fast do not consume even a morsel of food or a drop of water. Some modern day women who find the fast too rigorous consume water or milk during the day. Pregnant or sick women are also given a leeway during the fast and are allowed to consume fruits or any other food item considered necessary in their condition. Interestingly, many loving husbands too observe a fast for the sake of their wife. Though there is no such tradition, they do so out of love for their wife. The rigorous Karwa Chauth fast is broken only after moonrise which usually occurs after 8 pm.

Karwa Chauth Puja Process

Karwa Chauth puja is carried out during the afternoon. A group of brightly dressed women gather in a house or in temple premises to carry out the process. Women sit in the form of a circle at the centre of which is placed the cow dung image of Gaura Ma and a Karva (pitcher) on a raised platform. Womenfolk place teeka on the idol of Gaura Ma seek blessings for long and blissful married life. An elderly woman narrates the story of Karwa Chauth vrat and intermittently women rotate their thalis with baya while reciting the Karwachauth song, “Chand chade te pani peena…” After the puja women chat over and return to their respective homes. These days, women also play indoor games just to have fun and pass time till the moon rises.

Breaking the fast with Moon-rise

After the puja gets over there begins a desperate wait for the moonrise. Thirsty and famished, women, their husband and kids keep visiting the terrace to see if the moon has risen. News channels too announce the rise of the moon for the benefit of anxious women.

When the moon rises, women go to the terrace or open area with a thali containing a small pitcher of water, a piece of mithai and a diya. Women glance at the moon through a sieve or a chalani and then look at their husband the same way. After offering worship to the Moon God, women consume water from their husband’s hand and break their fast with a piece of sweet. Traditional Hindu women also touch their husband’s feet at this point.

Karwa Chauth – Gifting Tradition

After breaking the fast, women present baya to their saas or mother-in-law. Typically, baya includes mathris, almonds and a gift for mother-in-law. Sometimes, cash is also given in place of gift. This baya is same which was rotated in the thali during the puja.

Impressed with their wife’s devotion, husbands’ too indulge their wife with a gift. Popular Karwa Chauth gifts for wife include jewelry, saree and fashion accessories.

Sumptuous Dinner

After remaining hungry for so long, women look forward to a sumptuous dinner. Nowadays, couples prefer to go out for a lavish dinner in restaurants as wives feel too lethargic to cook a dinner themselves. No wonder, a heavy rush can be seen in restaurants on the Karwa Chauth night.