Karwa Chauth: Its Significance and Performing PoojaSeptember 7, 2023
You may have seen scenes of women celebrating Karwa Chauth for their husbands in Hindi movies. One memorable scene occurs in the blockbuster movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge’, starring Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan.
Karwa Chauth is a Hindu festival that is widely celebrated in North India by married women for the welfare of their spouses. It highlights the bond between husband and wife.
On this auspicious day, married women keep a fast from sunrise till moonrise. They do not eat any food or drink even water during the fast. The purpose of the fast is to ensure the longevity of their husbands and the prosperity of their families. The women break the fast after offering prayers to the moon and seeking blessings for their husband’s well-being.
The festival is celebrated grandly in states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, etc. Karwa Chauth falls on the 4th day after Poornima (full moon) in the month of Karthik (Nov-Dec).
The Significance of Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth has great significance for married women. It is an opportunity to show their love and devotion to their husbands.
Karwa means ‘pot,’ and ‘Chauth’ means ‘fourth’. Karwa is an earthen pot for carrying water. The festival was initially celebrated in the northern and western regions of India. There are many stories about the origins of this festival.
One says that the gods or Devas were defeated in battle by the Asuras or demons. When they approached Brahma for help, he told them that the wives of the gods should observe a fast for their husbands’ well-being, and this would help them to overcome the demons. So all the goddesses fasted on the Chaturthi of Karthik month. After this, the gods were able to defeat the demons, and since then, people began to celebrate the Karwa Chauth festival.
Another legend comes from the Mahabharata. When the Pandavas were living in exile, Arjuna went away to do strict penance to please the gods and acquire divine weapons to fight the Kauravas. Draupadi asked Krishna if there was anything she could do to help her husband. Krishna advised her to observe Karwa Chauth for Arjuna’s well-being.
In North India, when soldiers left for war, their wives would pray for their safe return and long life. This could also be a reason behind the festival. The festival also coincides with the beginning of the Rabi crop cycle. Wheat grains would be stored in large earthen pots or Karwas. The fast may have begun as a prayer for a bountiful harvest in places where grains were cultivated.
The Story Behind Karwa Chauth
In the city of Indraprasthapur lived a Brahmin by the name of Vedsharma. His wife was Leelavati, and they had 7 sons and 1 daughter, Veeravati. Being the only girl, she was indulged a lot by her parents and brothers.
After she got married, she observed the Karwa Chauth fast along with her sisters-in-law. However, unable to bear the hunger, she collapsed. The brothers were upset on seeing this. But they also knew that until she saw the moon, she would not eat any food. So one of her brothers went to a distant Vat tree with a light and a sieve and climbed it. When Veeravati regained consciousness, the other brothers told her that the moon had risen. Then they took her to the rooftop so that she could see it. On seeing the light behind the sieve on a faraway Vat tree, she believed her brothers’ words and broke the fast after making offerings to the light, which she thought was the moon.
Soon, she experienced some terrible omens. In her first mouthful, there was hair. She sneezed when taking her second mouthful. At the 3rd mouthful, she received a summons from her in-laws. On arriving at her husband’s house, she was shocked to find that he was dead. Realizing that she had made some mistake in her fast, she began to weep. Hearing her cries, Indrani, the wife of Indra, appeared before her. Veeravati pleaded with her to restore her husband to life. Indrani told her that he died as she broke her fast without offering Arghya (sacrifice) to the moon. But she assured her that if she observed Chauth fasting during all months of the year, she would get back her husband.
Veeravati followed her advice, and her husband was restored to life, thanks to the Punya she accumulated by fasting every month.
Preparing for the Karwa Chauth Pooja
Married women do a thorough cleansing and wear traditional attire. They assemble in groups. Clay pots or Karwas are beautifully decorated and filled with sweets and other offerings. Then the women pray for the well-being of their spouses.
The Pooja begins with offering prayers to Goddess Gauri and Ganesh, invoking their blessings for a successful Pooja.
The women take a vow for the well-being and longevity of their spouse and commit to the fast and Pooja rituals.
They present the Baya, an assortment of gifts, to the elderly women of the family to express gratitude and seek their blessings.
Karwa Chauth Katha
They listen to the Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha about Veeravati and the significance of the Pooja.
Seeing the Moonrise
Once the moon is sighted, the women offer water and prayers. Their husband gives them the first sip of water to break the fast.
Getting the Husband’s Blessings
The women seek their husband’s blessings for a happy and prosperous marital life.
The Karwa Chauth Pooja helps boost the bond between husband and wife. By observing the strict fast, women get a chance to express their love and devotion to their husbands.