Karwa Chauth Date 2016
Wednesday 19 October 2016
Indian women fasting for good health and longevity of husband have been an ancient practice in this country and this has evolved over several centuries. Women living in different parts of India observe the fasting and puja in different ways. When it comes to most colorful celebration preceded by a dedicated fasting and followed by interesting rituals, all we think is Karwa Chauth (करवा चौथ)!
Karwa Chauth or the Karka Chaturth (कर्क चतुर्थी) is a celebration where the married women fast the whole day from sunrise to moonrise praying god for the longevity of their husbands. It is a lavish celebration filled with lots of rituals. After seeing the moon through sieve, a married woman looks at her husband through sieve. Her husband then makes her drink water so that she could break her fast.
Karwa Chauth is a popular celebration in North India. The similar celebration where women fast and offer puja to goddess is celebrated in different ways in South India.
Married women generally wear new clothes and adorn themselves with dazzling jewelry before the ceremony begins. They decorate the homes colorfully with lights, flowers and decors. All we can see on a Karwa Chauth night is nothing but the brimming lights and the cheerful festivity, uplifted by the devotion of women towards the husband.
When is Karwa Chauth Celebrated
Karwa means Clay Pot and Chauth means Fourth.
Karwa Chauth falls around 9 to 10 days before Diwali. It falls on the 4th waning day after the full moon day that falls in the month of Kartik according to the Lunar Calendar. This celebration is typically celebrated after the harvest festival.
This year, Karwa Chauth falls on October 19, 2016.
The Legend of Karwa Chauth
Every celebration and festival is associated with a legend and has a story behind it!
The story of Veervati is quite popular and revolves around the celebrations of Karwa Chauth.
Once upon a time, a beautiful queen named Veervati lived with his seven lovable brothers. All brothers showed loads of love to their sister. Veervati got married and it was her first Karwa Chauth. In fact, Karwa Chauth wasn’t a popular festival in ancient days.
Since she was the only sister of seven brothers, she used to get pampered. She was asked to observe fast for the whole day and break the fast only after the moon rise. Veervati struggled immensely as she could not eat or drink anything. She suffered a lot from thirst and hunger. Unable to tolerate their sister struggling, the brothers created a mirror image using a Pipal tree, which depicted the reflection of moon. They convinced Veervati about the moon rise and made her break the fast.
Immediately after breaking the fast, the consequence reached her husband and he died. Shattered by her husband’s death, Veervati pleaded to goddess to give back her husband’s life. She cried and pleaded all the night to the Goddess until the Goddess appeared before her.
The goddess informed about the trick played by her brothers and asked her to fast again with full faith. Queen Veervati repeated the fast with utmost dedication and devotion which made Yama to breathe life into her husband.
Besides the story of Veervati, another story is also carried over ages. In fact, this legend led to celebration of Karwa Chauth.
Karwa and her story as a Devoted Wife
Once upon a time, a woman named Karwa lived with deepest devotion to her husband. No woman in the world had so much devotion, respect, love and dedication to her husband than Karwa. Her purest and deepest love and dedication gave her a special spiritual power, gifted by Goddess Shakthi. One day her life turned upside down. While his husband was taking bath in a river, he was caught by a crocodile. Karwa with her power tied the crocodile with yarn and ordered the God of Death, Yamraja to send crocodile to hell.
However, Yama refused to kill crocodile and send it to hell. She informed that her husband never did any wrong in his whole life and the crocodile who tried to hurt her husband should get punished. However, Yama refused.
Karwa shouted at Yama if he fails to kill crocodile, she would curse him! Yama was already aware about the purity of Karwa and her being a Pati-Vrat, (a devoted wife). He got afraid of her curse. So, he set the crocodile to hell and blessed Karwa’s husband with long life.
The day, when Yama blessed Karwa and her husband, is celebrated as Karwa Chauth.
It is just like Vat Savitri Vrat which is said to be celebrated on the day when Savitri got back the life of her husband Satyavan from Yama.
Regardless of the different stories that revolve around Karwa Chauth, it depicts one thing. A wife’s deep love, dedication and devotion for her husband which is believed to enhance the health and longevity of the husband.
Karwa Chauth Outfits
Married women deck-up like a gorgeous bride wearing a beautiful and rich lehenga or embellished sari on Karwa Chauth. Generally, the outfits will be in red or pink color, or in shades of red. Generally, married women wear their bridal outfit on Karwa Chauth. However, there are many who buy new outfits to celebrate Karwa Chauth.
First Karwa Chauth of a Married Girl
After marriage, every festival becomes very special for the newly married women in India. First Karwa Chauth after the marriage is a special festival. It almost involves grandeur celebrations like a marriage.
If any girl celebrates the first Karwa Chauth after marriage, the family invites all the relatives to be the part of the festival. The girl who observes the fasting on her very first Karwa Chauth after marriage is beautifully adorned like a bride. Generally, she receives the gorgeous outfit, similar to a bridal dress from her mother as well as from mother in law. Elders of the family bless the girl with jewelry and gifts. Besides, she also receives a lot of goodies and gifts on this special day.
- The newly married woman is cared after by the mother in law and relatives.
- The girl’s mother gift sweets, dry fruits, savories and a lot of gift items to the girl’s mother-in-law.
- In fact, the mother of the newlywed daughter gifts everyone on the occasion of the first Karwa Chauth.
- The mother in law cooks a delicious and lavish meal for the daughter in law.
- The newly married woman seeks blessing from all the members in the family before completing the ritual.
- She gifts utensils and sweets to the relatives and neighbors.
How Karwa Chauth evolved?
As mentioned earlier, every part of the country follows this kind of celebration in different ways. Until a few decades, Karwa Chauth was celebrated extensively but only in the Northwestern parts of India. There is an interesting equation in this ritual of celebrating Karwa Chauth in Northern India. More army men in India were appointed from these regions. And because army personnel live their lives by each day, married women used to observe this fast with utmost dedication to ensure the longevity of the husband who works in the army.
Puja and Rituals of Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth has interesting rituals.
- Married women wake up early in the morning, take bath and commence their fast before the sunrise.
- After taking bath, they take the pledge called Sankalp. This pledge is for fasting for the wellbeing of the husband and the family.
- They wear mehndi and involve in decorating the house and preparation for Puja.
- They don’t eat or drink anything the whole day.
- As per the muhurt (auspicious time) of puja, she offers prayer to the Lord Shiva and His family that include Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. In addition, an elderly woman will narrate the story of Veervati to the youngsters of a family. This may be in the afternoon, evening or late evening. In fact, Sandhya (संध्या), the time just after sunset is considered the best time for Karwa Chauth Puja.
- They also worship Goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata who represent Goddess Parvati .
- They draw Goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata on the wall. In the recent times, practice of using Chauth Mata’s image has gained ground. The image of Goddess is printed paper which is pasted to the wall.
- Generally, women perform Karwa Chauth Puja in a group and narrate the Story of Karwa Chauth.
- After Puja, the Karwa (earthen pot with a hole) is given as charity to a Brahmin or a married woman (सुहागन). The Karwa or Karak is filled with water or milk and precious stones or coins are dropped in it.
- After Puja, women start waiting for the moon to rise as they need to worship God Chandra or Moon and after that only they can break the fast.
- For this ritual, women observing Karwa Chauth fast dress up beautiful wearing the special outfits and deck up with jewelries.
- The main ritual begins when the moon appears fully on the sky.
- They store water in a small pot and offer the water to the moon.
- Married women look at the moon through a sieve. Immediately after seeing the blemish free moon, a married woman looks at her husband through a sieve. She then seeks his blessing and gives the pot filled with water to the husband. Her husband breaks the fast by feeding her water.
Since the moon is seen with no blemishes, seeing the husband immediately after watching the moon bestows the life with prosperity, health and longevity.
After completion of this ritual, she enjoys a lavish feast.
Modern day celebration of Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth is a popular festival that almost many films and television series showcase! This has led to a few modifications in the celebration of Karwa Chauth.
- In many families, even the husband observes fast along with his wife.
- Unmarried girls also now observe the fast and break it after seeing the boyfriend or just the moon
Karwa Chauth is the only day where you can see all married women as brides! In fact, all the terraces and roads can be seen flooded with couples, waiting for moon to rise and enjoying some of their happiest time together!