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Karwa Chauth is a festival that every Hindu married woman is aware of and the festival is celebrated in various parts of the country for the long life of their husbands. The festival is very popular in the states of Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Celebrated just nine days prior to the Diwali festival, it falls on the month of Karthik between October and November.
Today, Karwa Chauth is celebrated by married women of the community where they get together and observe the Vrat for their husbands and pray for their long life and prosperity. It is a festival that reflects the splendor and joy of being married and also reflects their marital status.
The history of Karwa Chauth
The word “Karwa” means earthen spout and it represents peace and prosperity and “Chauth” means the fourth day. The festival dates back to the ancient times and it is believed that Karwa Chauth was performed as a ritual signifying the relationship between the bride and her in laws.
Earlier, the bride after leaving her parents house after marriage used to look for friendship with women in her husband’s house to share her problems and emotions. Her friendship with other women in the household was usually solemnized in the marriage ceremony and they were considered sisters. This relationship was honored and Karwa Chauth was celebrated, but with time the original meaning drifted and many legendary tales got associated with this festival. Today, it is observed as a day of fast for all married women who pray for the long life of their husband.
Another story behind the Karwa Chauth festival is that it usually during the time when folks depart for a long distance journey especially for military assignment. The Sapta Sindhu region remained dry until the monsoon was back and it is believed that married women observed fast for the well being and long life of their husbands who were away from their home. Secondly, this is also the time when wheat is sown and people used to store them in big earthen clay pots known as Karva. The concept of fasting started as a wish for a good harvest during this wheat sowing season.
Significance and ritual
According to Hinduism, people always perform various rituals to get attached to God and get enlightened. Karwa Chauth is a perfect ritual to offer prayer to the God for the safety, prosperity and well being of their husbands. Fasting helps to establish self control and self discipline. It prepares the body and the mind for all sorts of hardship and makes one strong enough to survive during extreme difficulties. Married women begin their fast without consuming food and water and prepare themselves by eating a pre dawn meal.
How to do Karwa Chauth?
The celebration starts a day before when married women get beautifully wrapped pots of basket and gifts from their mother in laws. The earthen pots are filled with customary food known as the sargi that consists of fruits, fried potatoes, milk based sweets and Indian bread. These are consumed by the woman before the fast begins. The fasting starts from sunrise to sunset and throughout the day, women listen to stories of Karwa Chauth and offer prayers to God.
Women dress themselves in fine red or bright colored clothing that symbolizes auspiciousness and adorn themselves with bridal jewelry and makeup. They apply henna patterns on their palms and feed that are symbols of marriage.
In the evening, they get together in the neighborhood and perform the puja of Goddess Parvati. It is only after seeing the full moon that women break their fast in the evening and in the presence of their husbands. They lighten diyas and fill a container with water, which is offered to the moon. The husband stands in front of the wife and the wife sees the moon through the sieve and then the husband feeds the first morsel of food ending their wife’s Karwa Chauth fast.
Karwa Chauth now is celebrated with great pomp and the festival celebrates the loving bond between husband and wife. This is an occasion that encourages people to socialize and share and exchange Karwa Chauth gifts and enjoy home cooked special meals. It reflects splendor, joy and happiness of a married life.
When is Karwa Chauth 2016?
Karwa Chauth this year would be observed on the 19th of October in different States of India. Married women usually start preparation a day ahead to celebrate the festival and pray for the long life of their husbands.