About Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth is an important and popular Hindu religious festival observed by women folk for the well-being and prosperity of their husbands. On this day, women observe a ‘Vrat’ (fast) for the longevity of their husbands and to lead a blissful marital life. The word ‘Karwa’ means ‘earthen pot’ and ‘Chauth’ means ‘fourth’. The festival is observed on the fourth day of the full moon in the Hindu month of ‘Karthik’ (October-November). The ancient festival of Karwa Chauth is a glorious tribute to the marital relationship of a couple and is mainly celebrated in the Northern regions of the country.
How the first Karwa Chauth fast is observed
The festival of Karwa Chauth is an eagerly awaited occasion for newly-wed couples; it presents an opportunity for the woman to observe the fast and gain the good-will of her husband. The newly wed woman is showered with blessings by all the members of her family and relatives, who encourage her to the utmost and give her the love and affection to observe the fast. She is also presented with various gifts by the entire family as a token of their appreciation.
Rituals and Traditions of Karwa Chauth
The rituals and traditions associated with Karwa Chauth have immense significance for women as it allows them to express their gratitude for their marital relationship and the bond they share with their in-laws.
Women wake up before sunrise and have a purifying bath after which they worship their deity, before consuming a specially prepared food known as ‘Sargi’ which is given by the mother-in-law. After that, they do not consume anything, including water, for the duration of the entire day. Towards the end of the day, they dress up in bridal finery and listen to a rendering of the Karwa Chauth Katha. They then go out to the terrace or open spaces and await a glimpse of the moon. The sighting of the moon is celebrated with great joy and the women glimpse at the face of their husbands through a sieve or in the reflection of the water in the pot they carry. They then perform an Aarti for their husbands and request his blessings. The husband then dutifully breaks the fast of his wife by offering her water and a bite to eat.
This satisfies the criterion of the fast and the women then go on to partake of a scrumptious meal. The husband and other members of the family then offer her gifts which she gracefully accepts after being blessed by all the elders.
Preparations for Karwa Chauth
Many married women start the preparations for Karwa Chauth on the previous day itself. All the necessary items to perform the Puja are carefully collected and kept ready for the next day. These include items like karwa, matthi, henna etc. Some women have a small meal before sunrise as they have to get by the entire day without a morsel of food. They then spend the day applying ‘Mehendi’ (henna) on their arms and legs; this ritual is also observed by the other women of the house. The day is spent in chatting, gossiping and meeting family members and other loved ones.
As the day draws to a close, the women assemble at a common place to conduct the Puja, either in a temple or in someone’s house. An elder member of the family then recites the Karwa Chauth Katha, which is listened to in rapt attention by the others. The rituals and Puja also involves a special mud pot, symbolizing the elephant God Lord Ganesha, without whose blessings any Puja is considered incomplete. A metal urn filled with water and flowers is also placed at the Puja altar along with the idols of Goddess Ambika, Gaur Mata and Goddess Parvati. Fruits, mathi and food grains are offered to the deities as a symbol of reverence.
After completion of these formalities, the women then reverentially turn their attention skywards to catch a glimpse of the moon. The sighting of the moon is greeted with great applause and the women then dutifully head toward their respective husbands to complete the rituals.