Indian Festivals

Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth is a traditional Hindu festival for married women, and is celebrated in some parts of India. Married women fast one whole day without food or water for the long life of their husbands.
The ritual signifies extreme love and devotion to the husband, as evidenced by the wife's willingness to suffer for his well being. It is celebrated on the chaturthi tithi after the full Moon in the month of kartik in the Hindu calendar. According to the religious scriptures like Dharma sindhu, Nirnay sindhu and other shastra that governs rules of when to observe festival says, “Karwa Chauth to be observed at moonrise (chandrodaya vyapini) and poorvaviddha, best if its tritiya viddha. If visible during both days take the first one, if not visible on both days then take the second one”.
There is a misconception that Indian tithis are connected to English dates as given in Indian panchanga. The Indian panchangam is computed keeping IST in mind. The tithis ends at the same instance all over the world. So, we need to subract the time difference from India's Tithi end timings to arrive at tithi ending timings to your location. Now find out moonrise at your location and check if Chaturthi is visible during the moonrise karwa chauth at that place is on that day. Please do not use one published in indian calendars for your location. If you are not living in india and using the date published in indian calendar for karwa chauth outside indian then you could be either celebrating karawa pancham or karwa tritiya which is not a valid festival, for example if you are in usa you could be observing karwa chauth on panchmi, if you are in australia you could be observing karwa chauth on Tritiya day which is not the right festival due to time differences with Indian Standard time and respective time zones. To find out when is karwa chauth if you are living out of india do following: Note down india's tithi ending times for Ashwin Krishna Paksha Tritiya (Amavasyant) or Kartik Krishna Paksha Tritiya (Purnimant) [both are same, one is amavasyant month and another is purnimant months.

Amavasyant is more popular in Gujarat, Maharastra, and South india, where as Purnimant is more popular in north india). Add or Subtract the time difference between IST and your timezone where you live. If you live east of India Add otherwise subtract. Now see if Tritiya ends before moon rise in your town, if it ends before moonrise then take the same day otherwise take next day. Karwa means clay pot and chauth means fourth night after the full moon. It has great social and cultural significance and is mostly practiced in northern India. Wives start their fast at night just after the appearance of the moon, within sight of their husbands. They then wait until the next night's moonrise to begin the fast breaking ceremonies, without consuming any food or drink. In the evening women dress in their best clothing, and adorn themselves with jewellery and henna. On sighting the moon, they look and offer prayers and worship to it, and then receive their first bite of food and water from their husbands. Thereafter, women consume their special meal prepared for the occasion. Worshipping the moon involves filling up the karwa with specially prepared food and jewellery and offering it to the god. Karwas are also exchanged with other women after that. Further practices involve telling and listening to stories regarding origin of Karwa Chauth. There are variations within regions, groups, and communities in India about rituals of starting and breaking the fast, and worshipping the moon. In Punjab, for example, women start their fast by consuming food called sergi sent or given by her mother-in-law before the dawn. The fast breaking ceremony involves looking at the moon through a sieve, and then looking at her husband's face. They often close their eyes in the process and do not see anyone but their husbands just after seeing the moon. In other parts of India, there is no provision of sergi.

Karva Chauth Day

It is heartening to know that Hindus have always believed in worshiping the Male and Female aspect of God together and that Sri Ram was a staunch devoted husband. Not only that, one says Seeta Ram and Radha Krishna and as one can see the female name gets precedence. As the name signifies, Karva meaning a clay pot and chauth corresponding to the fourth, this festival is commemorated on the fourth day after the Full Moon in Kartik month of Hindu calendar. The fast of Karwa Chauth is kept 9 days before Diwali. In the olden days, a woman was dependent on a man, whether he was her father, brother, husband or Guru. Without a man she was considered incomplete. Today that may not be the case. But it is still refreshing to see a loving wife or a loving husband.

The festival of Karva Chauth was earlier emerged as a day to celebrate the season of autumn and enjoy the company of friends and relatives. But later on, many mythological legends were added to give it a religious touch. This festival is glorified and widely solemnized by the Hindus all over the world. On this day it is customary for the wife to fast the whole day. She does not drink water either. She paints her hands and feet with henna, dresses generally in red apparel and on her hair parting she smears vermilion powder. It is believed that a Pati-Vrat woman has the power to confront the God of Death, Yama. This Karva Chauth fast is undertaken by the wife, so that the husband enjoys a long and prosperous life.

The story of Karva is well known. Her husband was caught by a crocodile. Karva bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn. She then asked Yama to send the crocodile to hell. Yama refused. Karva threatened to curse Yama. Yama, afraid of being cursed by Pati-vrat (devoted) wife, sent the crocodile to hell. Karva and her husband enjoyed many years of wedded bliss. The fact that Yama was afraid of being cursed by a devoted wife showed the power a good faithful woman!

Maybe you have heard the story of Savitri. The latter followed Yama, who carried away her dead husband. Yama said that she could ask for any other boon except for the life of her husband. Savitri asked that she be blessed with children. Yama agreed. Being a Pati-Vrat wife, Savitri would never any other man, be the father of her children. Yama was left with no other choice but to restore Savitri's husband to life.

A few days before Karva Chauth, married women buy new karvas, the spherical clay pots and paint them on the outside with beautiful designs. Inside the pot, they put bangles and ribbons, home-made candy and sweets, make-up items and small clothes e.g. handkerchief. The women then visit each other on the day of Karva Chauth or immediately afterward, and exchange these karvas. Season-wise, soon after the harvest, it is an excellent time to enjoy festivities, meet one another and exchange gifts. During the time of Karva Chauth, parents send gifts to married daughters and their children.

The Ritual They are not supposed to eat or even drink water during the day. In the evening the ladies listen to the Karwa Chauth Katha (the legend). The fast is over after the moonrise. The Puja Process The pooja preparations start a day in advance.
Married women buy the shringar or the traditional adornments and the other pooja items the karwa, matthi, heena etc. 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 essentials of this gathering and listening of the karwa chauth story a special mud pot, that is considered a symbol of lord Ganesha, a metal urn filled with water, flowers, idols of Ambika Gaur Mata, Goddess Parwati and some fruits, mathi and food grains. A part of this is offered to the deities and the storyteller. They sit in a circle, and many such circles are made depending on the number of devotees attending the function as it is easy that the thalis are passed in a circle (fera) amongst themselves.
Here is the puja song sung by women, while they exchange thalis seven times. They place 'Bayen' in the thali.... Veero Kudiye Karwada, Sarv Suhagan Karwada, Aye Katti Naya Teri Naa, Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Naa, Aar Pair payeen Naa, Ruthda maniyen Naa, Suthra Jagayeen Naa, Ve Veero Kuriye Karwara, Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwara

This Stanza is sung 6 times i.e. It keeps on repeating till the time Thalis have been exchanged and all women have their own thalis... it goes on six times, 6 feras / circles. The seventh fera or circle or exchanging goes like this... Veero Kudiye Karwada, Sarv Suhagan Karwada, Aye Katti Naya Teri Nee, Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Bhee, Aar Pair payeen Bhee, Ruthda maniyen Bhee, Suthra Jagayeen Bhee, Ve Veero Kuriye Karwara, Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwara....... Earlier an idol of Gaur Mata was made using earth and cowdung. Now just an idol of Goddess Parwati is kept.
Every one lights an earthen lamp in their thalis while listening to the Karwa story. Sindoor, incense sticks and rice are also kept in the thali. At this time the women wear heavy saris or chunries in red , pink or other bridal colors, and adorn themselves with all other symbols of a married women like, nose pin, tika, bindi, bangles, earrings etc. 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. This marks the end of the day long fast. Kanayalal Raina

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