Origin and significance of Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth is a special festival close to the hearts of married women who see it a day when they get a chance to be close to their in-laws. It is especially celebrated in Northern India. Karva Chauth is celebrated on the fourth day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Kartik. The word Karwa means earthen pot and Chauth means fourth night after full moon, hence the name of the festival.
Highlights of the festival
On this day, married women keep rigorous fasts without food or water and pray for the long life of their husbands. This unique ritual is symbolic of the utter devotion and love toward their husbands and their willingness to undergo severe hardships for their husband’s well being. They eat before sunrise and after the day-long fast they break it only at moonrise.
A day before the festival, married women buy new karwas and decorate them with beautiful patterns. Then they put bangles, ribbons, and other items of shringar and traditional adornments, candies and sweets, etc. and exchange these karvas among friends. Parents send gifts to their married daughters and daughters-in-law.
In the evening, women dress themselves most beautifully mostly in red, pink or other bridal colored heavy sarees and dupatta and wear lots of jewellery. They assemble with their puja thali in a temple or a garden. Then, there an elderly lady narrates the story of Karva Chauth while the women gather around a special mud pot that is considered a symbol of Lord Ganesha. The devotees sit in circles and while singing devotional or religious songs they pass on the thali among themselves, which is called fera.
After the puja, when the moon rises, the women see their reflection in a thali of water or through a dupatta or sieve. They offer water to the moon and ask for blessings. The husband usually feeds the first bite of food to his beloved wife. Women usually eat special meals cooked for the occasion.
Tradition of Henna or Mehendi
In Karwa Chauth, it is customary for women to paint and decorate the hands and feet with henna or mehendi. It is an age-old tradition signifying luck and prosperity. Intricate and artistic designs are created with henna. It is believed that the darker the color of henna on a woman’s hand, the greater is the love she will get from her husband and in-laws.
Karwa Chauth History
On the occasion of Karwa Chauth, the women keep a rigorous fast without food or water the whole day only to break it after the sighting of the moon at night. According to Hindu tradition, there is a graveness associated with the Karwa Chauth history about moon. The women are advised not to look at the moon directly on this day. They are supposed to view it only as a reflection on water or through a sieve. Some of the popular Karwa Chauth legends and stories have been described as follows:
Legends associated with Karwa Chauth :
- Queen Veeravati who had kept a fast on Karwa Chauth was tricked into breaking her fast by her overly affectionate brothers before the moon rose and her husband had died. Later on a Goddess revived her husband taking a pity on her.
- There is also a Karwa Chauth legend associated with Mahabharata where Draupadi was advised by lord Krishna to observe fast while the Pandavas were in extreme difficulty during observing penance.
- The legendary story of Satyavan and Savitri is known to all Hindus right from their childhood. They symbolize the power and bond of a marital relationship. Similar to the ordeals faced by the devoted wife Savitri while she defied death and brought back his husband Stayavan to life, the modern women still willingly undergo this rigorous Karwa Chauth fast to protect their husbands from the clutches of Yama.
- There is also the legend of the devout wife Karwa who saved her husband from sure death through her intense devotion.
Karwa Chauth Importance
It is believed that marriages are made in heaven. Karwa Chauth holds great significance in the lives of married Hindu women because it celebrates the beauty and piousness of the eternal bond of marriage. The significance of Karwa Chauth is established by the karwa Chauth fast, the most difficult one in which women do not even taste a drop of water the whole long day. Applying mehendi on hands and sometimes on feet forms an important part of Karwa Chauth ritual. It is said the darker the colour of Karwa Chauth mehendi sets in the hands, the more love she will get from her husband. You can choose karva chauth mehendi designs from various Internet sources. For video and images of ladies getting colourful mehendi applied on their hands, log on to youtube. Hindu belief is that any deceit or lack of seriousness in performing the rituals of Karwa Chauth or fast can even endanger the life of the husband. The most important and attractive aspects of Karwa Chauth are as follows:
- Karwa Chauth fast
- Red, pink, maroon, lehenga cholis or sarees
- Karwa Chauth mehendi
- Karwa Chauth katha
- Sighting of the moon
- Sargi and baya along with gifts from mother-in-law
- Lavish gifts from husband