Karwachauth is an auspicious festival for all Hindu married women. It’s a very romantic tradition when a woman fasts from sunrise to moonrise and prays to Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati for the safety, health & long life of her husband. It’s been celebrated in a lot of Bollywood movies e.g. Dilwale Dulhania Lejange & Baghban. This festival is a symbol the love and sacrifice between husband and wife.
Contrary to some feminists who say this fast undermines women, it is believed to strengthen the bond. On Karwa Chouth, ladies don’t do any housework but instead are given gifts by their husbands as a sign of their respect & love for their wife.
Karwa Chauth 2021 will be celebrated on the 24th of October.
What womens do on Karwachauth?
On Karwa Chauth, married women dress up in bridal ethnic wear with jewellery. They apply henna on their hands &sindhoorin the parting of her hair. Karwa Chauth falls on the fourth day of the dark fortnight in the Kartika month every year. There are many stories around the origin of Karwa Chouth.
Karwa Chauth in ancient time
One of the most popular stories is during Mahabharat, when the Pandavs& Kurus were fighting, Draupadi feared for the safety of her husband. She prayed to Lord Krishna, who advised her to fast from sunrise to moonrise & only break her fast when she sees the moon.
At the time, all men had to put down their weapons at sunset, signifying the end of the battle for that day.
KarwaChouth was particularly popular in North India as one of the hypotheses is that military campaigns were often conducted by men in far-off places whereby men would leave their wives and children at home to go off to the war. Their wives would often pray for their safe return. The festival also coincides with the wheat-sowing time.
KARWA CHOUTH meaning
Big earthen pots in which wheat is stored are sometimes called Karvas, so the fast may have begun as a prayer for a good harvest in this predominantly wheat-growing North-western region.
Another popular tale is The Story of Satyavan and Savitri:
It is said that when Yama, the God of death came to acquire Satyavan’s life, Savitri begged in front of Yama to grant him life. But Yama was adamant and seeing that Savitri stopped eating and drinking and followed Yama as he took her husband away. Yama now said Savitri that she can ask of any other boon except the life of her husband. Savitri being a very clever woman asked Yama that she wants to be blessed with children. She is a devoted and loyal wife and won’t let any kind of adultery. Thus, Yama had to restore the life into Satyavan so that Savitri can have children.
Women begin preparing for Karva Chauth a few days in advance, by buying adornments (shringar), jewelry, and puja items, such as the Karva lamps, matthi, henna and the decorated puja thali . On the day of the fast, women awake to eat and drink just before sunrise. This meal is called Sargi, and is often shared amongst married women. It includes fenia, which is milk & sugar, Fruit, nuts and pomegranate. These help them to go without water for the whole day.
In the evening, a community women-only ceremony is held. The ladies who are fasting sit in a circle with their puja thalis. An older woman, recites the Veervati story & the Karvachauth puja song is sungcollectively, while passing their thalis around in the circle.
Karwachauth Tale of the Queen Veervati:
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful queen named Veervati who was the only sister among seven loving and caring brothers. In one of the Karwa Chauth she was at her parent’s place and began a strict fast after sunrise. In the evening she was waiting eagerly for the moonrise as she was suffering from hunger and thirst. The brothers were pained by seeing their sister in suffering. So, they created a mirror in a Pipal tree that made it look as if the Moon is up in the sky. Now, the moment Veervati broke her fast, the news that her husband has died arrived. She kept on weeping and that’s when a Goddess arrived in front and revealed that she was tricked by her brothers. Now, she kept the KarwaCahuth fast with full devotion, and seeing the dedication, Yama, the lord of death restored life to her husband.
The first six rounds describe some of the activities that are taboo during the fast and the seventh describes the lifting of those restrictions with the conclusion of the fast. The forbidden activities include weaving cloth (kumbhchrakhraferinaa), pleading with or attempting to please anyone (ruthdamaniyennaa) awakening anyone who is asleep (suthrajagayeennaa).
The fera ceremony concluded, the women await the rising of the moon. Once the moon is visible, depending on the region and community, it is customary for a fasting woman, to view moon or its reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve, or through the cloth of a dupatta. Water is offered (arka) to the moon (som or chandra, the lunar deity) to secure its blessings. In some regions, the woman says a brief prayer asking for her husband’s life. It is believed that at this stage, spiritually strengthened by her fast, the woman can successfully confront and defeat death (personified by Yama).
Her husband then takes the water from the thali and offers it to his wife; taking her first sip of water during the day, the fast is now broken and the woman can have a complete meal
Unmarried girls sometimes keep this fast as a prayer for a loving husband in the future.
Can we drink water in Karwa Chauth fast?
Women keep Karwa Chauth fast to bless their husbands with a long and prosperous life. Traditionally, women are supposed to refrain from drinking water and eating anything after the sargi, until they see moon in the night.
How can I break my Karva Chauth fast?
You have to wait for the moon to come out and then perform the puja. Finally, you break your fast by having water and a morsel of food from your husband.