The fast of Karwa Chauth is kept 9 days before Diwali. It falls on the fourth day of the Kartik month by the Hindu calendar (fourth day of the waning moon or the dark fortnight). Karwa Chauth is considered one of the most important fasts observed by the married Hindu women. On this day the women pray for the welfare and long life of their husbands. It is the most important and difficult fast observed by married Hindu women. It begins before sunrise and ends only after offering prayers and worshipping the moon at night.
According to a belief, on this day God Yama, at the lamentations and impressive arguing of Savitri, Sateyvan’s wife restored Sateyvan, who had died at an early age, to life.
In some places, Siva and Parvati are worshipped on this day. The only aim of this fast is to save the husband from an untimely death and have a long married life. After ablution and other daily necessities, and after taking bath in the early morning, before sunrise, women should undertake a vow for the welfare of the husband, sons, and grandsons. Siva, Parvati, Kartikeya, Ganesha and the moon (Chandrama) are worshipped. Their blessings are invoked. After worship, rice, black gram pulse auspicious articles viz. comb, mirror, vermilion, bangles, ribbon, etc. are put on a copper plate or on an earthen plate, along with fruits and kept ready till the fast is broken, after seeing the moon. The fast is to be observed without even taking water.
In a legend in the Maharashtra, once Arjun went for worship in Nilgiri Hills. Drupadi, believing that there was none to protect her in the horror-stricken forest, invoked Krishna. On the appearance of Krishna, Drupadi explained her problem. Krishna explained that once Parvati had expressed such a suspicion before Shiva.
The latter had then said that for a housewife, the fast on Kartik Krishna Chaturthi was a remedy for such apprehensions. Krishna further told Drupadi that once upon a time, there was a Brahmin, who had seven sons and one daughter. Being the only daughter she was married with great pomp and show. On the Karva Chauth day, she undertook the fast, but before the rise of the moon she felt hungry.
Seeing the pathetic condition of their only sister, the loving brothers asked her to break the fast, but she did not agree. Then the brothers reflected a mirror through Pipal tree leaves. The sister, mistook it as moonrise, broke the fast and took food. Surprisingly, her husband died. The daughter started crying. Per chance, Indrani, the sister of Indra, was passing by with her maids. Hearing the cries, she came to the weeping woman and asked her tale of woo. Then she advised that she should undertake the fast on every fourth day of the month, for one year and undertake the Karva Chauth fast under strict rituals, then only her husband would come to life. Doing so, the daughter brought back to life her husband. Narrating this story, Krishna consoled Drupadi and advised her to observe Karva Chauth fast and assured her about the ultimate victory of Pandavas.
Introduction Legend Ritual
The Karwa Chauth Rituals and Festivities :
On the day of Karva Chauth married women wake up before dawn. They take bath and invoke blessings of Goddess Parvati for their husband's long life. Women are then given a sumptuous meal called 'Sargi' by mother-in-law to eat before sunrise, as the fast starts before sunrise and ends only after worshiping the moon at night. It is a tough fast, as after the Sargi women are not supposed to take any form of food or liquid. In the day, the married woman receives the baya or a basket full of goodies from her mother, which is meant for the mother-in-law. The most joyous part of Karwa Chauth is the Puja held in the evening. A large number of elegantly dressed women gather in a temple or in somebody's house for Puja. Women pray to Goddess Parvati or Gauri Ma for the well being and long life of their husbands. The fast is broken once the moon is sighted and special rituals and prayers marking the day have been offered. At night when the moon appears, women break their fast after offering water to the moon.
The Karwa Chauth Puja and Celebrations :
A Day Before: The pooja preparations start a day in advance. There is huge excitement a day before the festival as women make elaborate preparations to dress up elaborately for the occasion. The Married women buy bangles, bindis, apply mehndi (Hena tattos) on their hand and feets.
Beginning of the Day : Early in the morning they prepare food and have it before sunrise. The morning passes by in other festive activities like decorating hand and feet with heena, decorating the pooja thali and meeting friends and relatives.
The Puja : In the evening, women dress up in special clothes, usually a red or pink sari or 'lehenga-choli' with gold woven 'zari' patterns. New brides often wear their bridal costume. All deck up in jewelry. Decorative 'bindis' on the forehead are a must for all women taking part in this celebration. Fasting women from all over the neighborhood gather in a group and narrate the story of Karwa Chauth that underscore the significance of Karwa Chauth and sing the Karwachauth song while rotating the thalis containing Baya .
Once the moon rises, the women see its reflection in a thali of water, or through a dupatta or a sieve. They offer water to the moon and seek blessings. They pray for the safety, prosperity and long life of their husbands and sing a Karwachauth ark song. She is then given a piece of sweet and sip of water by her husband. Hands over the Baya to the monther-in-law or any elderly lady of the household and seeks the blessings. Then comes the much awaited sumptuous dinner. This marks the end of a day long fast
The karwa chauth song:
"Veero Kudiye Karwada,
Sarv Suhagan Karwada,
Aye Katti Naa Teri Naa,
Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Naa,
Gwand Pair payeen Naa,
Sui Cha Dhaga Payi Naa,
Ruthda maniyen Naa,
Suthra Jagayeen Naa,
Bahaein Pyari Veera,
Chan Chadde te Pani Peena,
Lay Veero Kuriye Karwara,
Lay Sarv Suhagan Karwara."