What is karwa chauth?
Karwa chauth is a festival usually celebrated by north Indians during the lunisolar month of karitika, which in the Gregorian calendar usually falls during october or November. This year, karwa chauth is being celebrated on the 4th of November. Karwa chauth is a festival where women fast for a day, to wish for long life, health, and happiness for their husband. They do this by fasting for the day and preforming rituals in the evening. A common misconception about karwa chauth is that only married woman can take part in the hindu festival, this is false. The festival started, but as we humans evolved so did our cultures, now if you wish an unmarried woman can take part in karwa chauth if she wishes to do. She can do this in the hopes of finding a good husband and that his life will belong and prosperous.
The origin of karwa chauth:
There are many different stories of the origin of karwa chauth. Some believe the tale of queen Veervati. She was a beautiful girl who was the only girl out of 7 brothers. On karwa chauth, she fasted from sunrise till sundown. Her brothers felt bad she was so hungry, so they made an allusion of the moon in the sky so she could break her fast. The minute she broke her fast she got the news her husband died. As she cried a goddess came and told her her brothers tricked her into seeing a moon. Now she keot karwa chauth fully every year and yama returned her husband.
Another story is from the Mahabharata. It was the night of karwa chauth and Arjun was having some self penalty in the mountains. As he was gone his brothers were struggling without him. draupdi asked krishna what to do and he told her to follow strict karwa chauth rituals. She did and the pandava brothers resolved there challenges.
Another tale, was the story of karwa. There once was a devote wife named karwa, her devotion was so strong it gave her powers. Once her husband was bathing in the river, a crocodile came attacked him. Karwa tied the crocodile up. The lord of death, yama was afraid to be cursed by such a devote woman, so he sent the crocodile to hell and gave life back to the husband.
Nowadays, or in the old days, women used to fast when their husbands went to war. It made them feel as though they could help keep his life. In ancient india, women would get married at a young age and have to leave home. So the women of the village would come together for a night of celebrations so thye didn’t feel so lonely.
There are origins of karwa chauth- but one thing stays the same. Women fast for the protection and long lives of their husbands.
Rituals of karwa chauth:
There are many rituals of karwa chauth. Rituals differ from family to family, but these are the main rituals of the ospicious day.
1. sagri. For newely married women, you should preform sagri. You go to your in-laws house and receive sagri of the morning of karwa chauth, before the sunrise. Your in-laws give you aagri, which is a plate with food prepared by the mother in law to give you strength for the day. This includes, mathri, mathai and dried fruits.
2. baya. Baya is a gift given to the women who is fasting from her mother in law, to say thank you to the wife for fasting for her son. This gift could be a jewellery, clothes money or sweets. The women then dresses in bright clothes and applies mehendi to her hands and feet, which symbolise being married in India. If it’s a woman’s first karwa chauth, gifts are given to the boys side of the family also. Baya is used as a way for the mother and daughter in law to connect. Some mother’s give milk or tea in the evening to show mutual respect.
3. Pooja. In the evening, all the women gather to do pooja and tell the origin story of karwa chauth. As I explained earlier, there are many different stories, but the main one told is the story of Veeravati. After this, the women say a prayer of long and happy life for there husbands. Then women pass there thalis around in a clockwise way will chanting mantras.
4. Breaking the fast. When the moon rises in the sky the women get ready to break there fast. The women light diyas and pour water into the karva, and place them and a sieve onto the thaali. When they see the moon, wives offer the water to the moon. They then look at there husbands through the sieve. They say a prayer of long lives for their husband, finally the husbands feed the women food and water and they break their fast. They have a big meal after and sometimes the husbands give gifts to the bride