Karwa Chauth is a Hindu festival when the women of the household observe a ‘Vrat’ (fast) and pray for the well-being and long life of their male counterparts (husbands). The term Karwa Chauth is formed from two words ‘Karwa’ which means earthen oil lamp and ‘Chauth’ which means four. This auspicious day falls on the fourth day of the holy Hindu month of ‘Kartik’ (October-November). This period is also observed as the harvest season in some parts of India and people celebrate this time with great gusto and enthusiasm. The popular festival of Karwa Chauth falls in the same month as the ‘Diwali’ festival which occurs nine days later. Initially, the festival of Karwa Chauth was celebrated by newly-wed brides to cement their relationship with their in-laws household, but gradually it has now also come to be observed for maintaining a good marital relationship. Whatever be the reason, the festival of Karwa Chauth is celebrated with great reverence and holds tremendous significance in Indian society, especially in the Northern regions.
History of Karwa Chauth
The origins of the ‘Karwa Chauth festival hark back to ancient times and the tradition is still maintained with the same fervor till date. The custom of observing this festival was started to ensure a newly-wed bride lives in her ‘Peka’ (marital home) with the same dignity and respect as her ‘Maika’ (parental home). Once married, a woman would forge new ties with the women in her in-laws household and strengthen the bond between herself and her husband. This way, she would come to be loved and cherished by everyone in her new home and absorbed as a member of the household. Although many stories revolve around the origins and observance of this festival, it is strongly associated with being a way for women to express their love and gratitude for their marital home.
Karwa Chauth Celebrations
The festival of Karwa Chauth is mainly celebrated by the North Indian community within the country and abroad. A strict ‘Vrat’ (fast) is observed from dwan to dusk by the women of the household and broken only upon glimpsing a sight of the moon. Many women break the fast only upon seeing the face of their husbands, who offer ‘Jal’ (holy water) to their wives. Women also observe the practice of applying ‘Mehendi’ (a popular form of body art) during this day. Many women form gatherings to participate in this ritual and generally spend the day in gossip and having a good time together.
The festival of Karwa Chauth is a unique and holy tradition which has been observed by Indian women for generations and will continue to be so for eternity. The festival is observed in a big way and its popularity is growing with every passing year, with more and more women observing the ritual for the welfare and prosperity of their husbands. Many gala events are also conducted on this day in various clubs and other institutions.