India is famously known as ‘The land of festivals’ since there are several festivals celebrated around the country, throughout the year. Karwa Chauth, a festival celebrated by married women only, is one among them & also holds great importance. It is prevalent in the northern & northwestern regions of the country & is also widely celebrated by Hindu’s & Sikh’s throughout the country.
Karwa Chauth is combined with two words, ‘Karwa’, meaning earthen lamp & ‘Chauth’, meaning four. Karwa Chauth falls precisely on the fourth day in the month of Kartik close to Diwali. On this day, married Hindu women observe a fast from sunrise to moonrise for the prosperity, well-being & longevity of their husbands. On this day, husbands & their wives celebrate & cherish their beautiful bond of love & togetherness. During this festival, married women receive jewelry, clothes, & Karwa Chauth gifts, both from their mother & mother-in-law. Karwa Chauth is an essential & strict fast that all married Hindu women observe. On this day, women get up even before the dawn breaks & consume ‘Sargi’, consisting of fruits, dry fruits, sweets, snacks, etc. which is prepared by their mother-in-law; this is the only time where they consume water & meal before starting their fast which continues until moonrise.
Finally, when the moon rises, it’s time to break the fast, so women look at the moon indirectly either through a sieve or a reflection in water followed by looking at their husbands, who then break the fast by giving their wives the first sip of water & morsel of food, which is followed by music, singing, dancing, & a dinner party where people, especially women, eat to their heart’s content.
But, if you think women, during Karwa Chauth festival, observe fast & do nothing. You are extremely wrong. There are several activities that women are involved in, along with a constant ‘BATTLE’, let’s discuss a few;
1. Shopping – As we already know, Karwa Chauth is an inevitable part of married Hindu women (unless she has health complications). The preparations start well in advance, the ‘Puja Samagri’, which is an essential part of the celebration, Clothes, jewelry, footwear, Karwa Chauth Thali, etc. is all bought & kept ready for D-Day.
2. Gifts– On Karwa Chauth, for women, it’s raining gifts. From parents, In-laws, friends, relatives, & husband, women receive a lot of gifts. But, simultaneously they also have to exchange gifts with fellow married women friends who celebrate the festival, so they have to prepare for that as well.
3. The Evening Meal – Apart from all other arrangements, women are also involved in the essential preparation, and that is the evening meal. Obviously, after a long day of fast & it being a festival, you would want to have a delicious meal rather than a regular one, so there are various mouth-watering delicacies prepared & thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.
4. Henna/Mehendi ceremony – Being one of the ‘Solah Shringars’ Henna or Mehendi is applied by women on their hands & feet. Some women nowadays also use Henna on their hair as it is considered suitable for healthy hair & also gives a reddish-brown color to it. Women enjoy this ceremony with family & friends, along with music & dancing, and have a good time.
5. The Karwa Chauth Katha– During the day, apart from the preparations, women also gather in the nearby temple where the Karwa Chauth Katha is narrated aloud. It’s a story of Queen Veervati, who was the beloved & only sister to her seven brothers. She had traveled to her parent’s home for her first Karwa Chauth & was following the rituals strictly. By evening she had grown weary & was finding it hard to battle with hunger & thirst.
Unable to see their sister in distress, the brothers placed a big mirror on a ‘Peepal’ tree and created a big fire that was reflected in the mirror & Veervati was deceived by it. After she broke the fast news broke that her husband is no more. She was completely shattered when she learned about it. However, there are two theories relating to the end of the story
- While she was weeping, a goddess appeared to her, describing how she was tricked by her brothers & instructed her to re-attempt the fast with complete devotion, which ultimately brought her husband back to life.
- It is said that her parent’s home was near to her husband’s palace, so when she was on her way back she met Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati & described the whole story, to which, Goddess Parvati cut her little finger & gave her blood to Veervati to sprinkle it on her husband & instructed her to complete the fast the following day.
These are the few things that women go through during the festival of Karwa Chauth along with the daylong battle with thirst & hunger, which they overcome with grace & smiles on their faces. Definitely, it is a commendable job they do & call it ‘Duty’ towards their husbands, a job they should be appreciated for.