How to celebrate Karwa Chauth
About Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth festival is celebrated with great fanfare throughout India, especially in the Northern and North-western parts of the country. Typically, Karwa Chauth is a festival for married Indian women. The word ‘Karwa’ refers to an earthen pot with a spout, used for prayer rituals on this day. ‘Chauth’ means the fourth day after the full moon, in the Hindu calendar month of ‘Kartik’.
This year, Karwa Chauth will be celebrated on Tuesday, 22nd October 2013.
Married women observe a fast on this auspicious day and seek blessing from the almighty for the prosperity, welfare, longevity and good health of their husbands. Sometimes, unmarried women too observe this fast for their fiancés or desired husbands.
The festival falls in between Dussehra and Diwali in the month of October or November. Married women consider the Karwa Chauth fast to be holy and follow this important ritual every year with great devotion and love. The fast is extremely tough, starts with sunrise, ends with moonrise, and women are supposed to stay away from eating anything and even drinking water for the entire day.
Significance of Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth has several legends associated with it but the most famous story associated with it is the story of Satyavan (husband) and Savitri (wife). Legend says that Yamraj, the God of Death visited the couple to take Satyavan’s life. Savitri, the devoted wife was devastated on hearing this and pleaded with the Death God to let her husband live, however, Yamaraj did not pay any heed to the pleadings and took away Satyavan’s life. Savitri went on a fast in protest and refused to eat or drink till Yamaraj returned her husband’s life. Yamaraj was moved by the extreme devotion and dedication of the woman for her husband and hence was forced to grant life back to Satyavan. Since then Indian Hindu women started fasting on this day for their husbands’ long life.
Karwa Chauth Celebrations
Karwa Chauth celebration begins a day prior to the festival day. On the penultimate day, there is lot of excitement in every house. Women get busy preparing for the pooja (prayer ritual), go shopping for new dress, bangles, bindis, jewelry etc. and apply henna on their palms. On the day of the festival, women rise up early in the morning, eat and drink just before sunrise, and begin their fast with sunrise. The pre-sunrise meal is often called ‘sargi’ in Punjab and is generally prepared by the mother-in-law. In the evening, women dress up in their traditional clothes (mostly in red, pink or green saari, lehenga or suit), put bindis, wear sindoor, do makeup and wear heavy jewelry. Newly married women generally wear their bridal costumes.
All the fasting women from the neighborhood gather in the evening for the pooja and narrate stories of the Karwa Chauth. Usually, the elder women tell the stories to stress the significance of the Karwa Chauth fasting to the young married women. The women also engage in singing traditional Karwa Chauth songs while rotating the plate/platter (thaali) that contains ‘Baya’ / ‘Baayna’ (home-made delicacies, sweets, etc.). In Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, women exchange their Karwas seven times amongst themselves. The ‘baayna’ is offered to idols of Gods and then handed over to mother-in-law, sister-in-law or an elder married woman in the house with a gift (dress, jewelry, bangles or money) and their blessings are sought. The women continue to sing and narrate stories until moonrise.
Once the moon is up and visible, women begin the fast breaking rituals. First, the fasting women see the reflection of the moon in a plate containing water or through a sieve or through their dupatta. Then they seek the blessings of the moon by offering water and pray for the long life and prosperity of their husbands. Finally, women break their fast by drinking the first sip of water from their husband. After getting the blessings of the mother-in-law and other elder women in the home, women finally gorge on the special dinner to mark the end of the fast.
In case, you are considering organizing a Karwa Chauth get-together at your place, try planning your event via EventEve.com
And don’t forget, whatever you do, do with full spirits and enjoy!
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