A one-day Hindu festival, Karva Chauth is celebrated by married women on the fourth day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Kartik, (usually October or November). It’s a celebration of the bond between husband and wife, and the women fast from sunrise, as a part of the karva chauth rituals, till they see the moon for the well-being and longevity of their husbands.
Named after the earthen pot, or karva, of water that women use to offer prayers to the moon, this festival has roots in ancient mythology, with various stories and legends.
One of the popular legends tells the story of Karva, a devoted wife who saved her husband’s life from the god of death, Yamraj. Karva is said to have tricked Yamraj into believing that it was still daytime, even though the sun had already set, which prevented him from taking her husband’s life. Thus, Karva’s devotion to her husband was rewarded.
Karva Chauth is a popular festival in North and West India, and it is celebrated by women of all ages and social classes. It is a time to come together and celebrate your marriage and the love you share with your husband.
Different Karva Chauth Rituals Observed By Women:
While the primary ritual for Karva Chauth is fasting, there are many variations in the way the festival is observed by different categories of women, including Karva Chauth rituals for unmarried women.
1. Married Women
Married women wake up early before sunrise and have sargi prepared by their mother-in-law. They abstain from food and water throughout the day and even refrain from swallowing saliva. Their fast is broken only after seeing the moon, often with the husband’s help. The husband then offers his wife the first sip of water and the first morsel of food to break her fast.
2. Women Who Aren’t Married
Women without a partner can also observe Karva Chauth rituals for unmarried women, and pray for a good and suitable life partner. They fast without water, and some even perform the rituals with utmost devotion, hoping for a prosperous future married life.
3. Newly Married Women
Newly married women, especially in their first year of marriage, observe Karva Chauth with great enthusiasm. Karva Chauth rituals for newly married women is an essential tradition, as they seek blessings for a happy and prosperous married life, and often receive sargi food, guidance and support from the older family members.
4. Pregnant Women
Pregnant women can sometimes observe a partial fast, and allow themselves to consume fruits, milk, and other light foods during the day to maintain energy levels. They participate in the evening rituals, seeking well-being for their family and their baby.
Karva Chauth Fasting Rituals:
Here’s how fasting rituals are performed on Karva Chauth:
The fast begins with a pre-dawn meal of fruits, sweets, and other nutritious items called ‘sargi,’ usually prepared by the mother-in-law. If you’re having sargi food, you can’t drink water or have any food after sunrise.
2. Daytime Abstinence
From sunrise till the moon rises, women abstain from food and water for the rigorous fast that lasts the entire day.
3. Puja Preparation
In the evening, women prepare for puja by dressing up in traditional attire, wearing jewellery, and applying mehendi on their hands. The puja thali has a diya, karva (earthen pot), sindoor, chawal, sweets, and water.
4. Puja Rituals
All the fasting ladies gather for the evening puja where the karva is filled with water, and the women sit in a circle. The puja then begins with the recitation of the Karva Chauth story, prayers, and bhajans. The karva is passed around the circle, and each woman touches it.
5. Moon Sighting
After the puja, women eagerly wait for the moon to rise. The moon is considered a symbol of prosperity and longevity, and once it’s visible, you break your fast. First, look at the moon through a sieve, and then at your husband’s face. Offer water to the moon and then your husband.
6. Breaking The Fast
Karva Chauth fasting is traditionally broken with the husband offering the wife the first morsel of food and a sip of water.
After the fast is broken, families come together for a grand feast. Special dishes, sweets, and delicacies are prepared in a karva chauth food thali for the woman to celebrate.
8. Husband’s Gifts
Husbands often express their love and gratitude by gifting their wives on this occasion. It is a gesture of appreciation for their dedication and love.
8 Do’s And Don’ts Of Karva Chauth Fasting:
1. Do Pray And Meditate:
Pray, meditate, and read the religious scriptures to pass your time and focus on spiritual activities.
2. Do Dress Traditionally:
Dress to impress in traditional attire, jewellery, and mehndi (henna) as a part of the festivity.
3. Do Stay Hydrated Before Sunrise:
Drink enough water and other hydrating fluids before starting the fast at sunrise, so that you’re hydrated during the day.
4. Do Break Your Fast With Husband’s Support:
Your husband should offer you the first sip of water, and the first morsel of food after moonrise, to break your fast. This is supposed to symbolise his care and affection for you.
5. Don’t Have Negative Thoughts:
Maintain positive thoughts and avoid any sort of negativity during the fast. Focus on the purpose and significance of the special day.
6. Don’t Physical Exertion:
Obviously, try to avoid strenuous physical activities to conserve your energy. Rest and switch to calmer activities to pass the time.
7. Don’t Gossip Or Negative Talk:
Try not to engage in gossip or negative conversations, and maintain a peaceful and respectful atmosphere. (For a happy life, all year round – not just on Karva Chauth!)
8. Don’t Overindulge:
While breaking your fast with karva chauth dishes, don’t overeat or have lots of heavy and unhealthy foods to prevent discomfort.
Celebrations On Karva Chauth:
1. Dressing Up
All the women dress in exquisite sarees, lehengas, or suits in bright colours and our classic Indian traditional jewellery. It’s a festive occasion, so go all out and enjoy taking special care of your appearance. Also, check out our karva chauth style guide featuring 5 traditional to trendy looks here.
2. Community Gatherings
As we saw in K3G, Karva Chauth is a great occasion to gather in groups at community centres, or even each other’s houses. A communal celebration will strengthen the bond among women in the community (and you might even get to Bole Chudiya)
3. Husband’s Involvement
All the husbands are supposed to actively participate in the rituals and help their wives during the puja, with support throughout the day.
4. Gifts And Blessings
Your husband should ideally give you gifts as a token of his love and appreciation for your dedication. Even the elders in the family bless the couple for a happy and prosperous married life.
After breaking the fast, families come together for a sumptuous meal with a karva chauth food thali, which often includes your favourite dishes. Celebrate with joy and karva chauth dishes after a day-long fast.
This important festival celebrates the bond between spouses and encourages positive thoughts, traditional dressing, and societal gatherings. Rejoice and enjoy your first karva chauth after marriage with love and togetherness.
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