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Karwa Chauth – Romancing The Moon!

Karwa Chauth – Romancing The Moon!

Karwa Chauth
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Karwa Chauth is considered to be a romantic festival, a ritual of fasting from sunrise to moonrise, followed by married Hindu woman for the safety, prosperity and a long life of their better half. Priyasha Bhattacharjee writes her love for the Festival, how she has been keeping the Karwa Chauth fast and also how it is celebrated in different parts of India, and now in Eastern India too

I am deeply, madly and passionately in love with my beloved husband and not just today, after being married for fourteen years, but also before our marriage. Our courtship days assured me that my love for him is eternal and exclusive and so is for me, his well-being.

Hailing from North-East, our family predominantly follows the Bengali custom which are more influenced by all the major festivals like Durga Puja, Lokkhi Puja, Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Paila Boisakh, Deepabali and so on.

But after my marriage, when I stepped out of my Guwahati city, I was very much fascinated and touched by my brother’s wife in Hyderabad. She, though a Bengali from Guwahati, had adopted the beautiful festival of Karwa Chauth and observed fast for her hubby with so much love and dedication.

Karwa Chauth is not a festival, it is an emotion for every Hindu wife to openly declare her love and concern towards her better half. It truly appealed me more than anything. The concept holds a deep meaning, it is not just about love and emotions, it is also about that best friend who listens to you when you are low and uplifts your spirit. Also, the unconditional support he lends to fulfil your ambition and dreams. I will always remember that day when he just resigned from his lucrative job, just to spend time with our child.

When Rubina, my friend, took up her lost job which she had to leave because of her family pressure and also due to her pregnancy. Now after a gap of two years, she is back to chase her lost dreams but that is not her dreams alone, it is her hubby’s aspirations too, which is finally getting its wings to fly.

Woman with the Karwa Chauth Thali

Karwa Chauth is a ritual of fasting followed by married Hindi woman without drinking even a drop of water throughout the day to seek prosperity, longevity and good health of her hubby. Unmarried girls also keep fast for their future hubby.

It is celebrated mostly in the Northern and Western part of India. It has opened its arms in North Eastern States too. Inter-caste marriage has helped women to see the other rituals and customs and their importance. It has widened the level of acceptance in every new festival for North Eastern individuals.

Karwa Chauth is celebrated nine days prior to Diwali, on the fourth day or dark fortnight of Krishna Paksh of the Hindi calendar month, Kartik. Chauth means fourth day, Karwa means a small earthen pot with spout. That pot symbolizes prosperity and peace.

In earlier or ancient times, newly married young woman at their in-laws place, right after marriage didn’t have any friend or relatives to share their grievances and joy within their new home as their own families lived far away. This situation led to the formation of a ritual where in the bride would befriend another woman near her husband’s residence at the time of marriage, she would be her friend for life. Once the ritual is done, these two women will be called “God-sisters” or real friends and will stand by each other through thick and thin.

It is supposed that the festival of Karwa Chauth to celebrate the bond of women, thus shared the tradition to keep fast for the hubby was added later on, probably to enhance the significance of the festival because husbands were the primary reasons why these two women have bonded as friends.

Woman doing Karwa Mata puja
Woman doing Karwa Mata puja

In North and Western parts of India, this festival holds a remarkable social and cultural significance. This is not just an excellent opportunity for the married woman to get closer to her hubby and his family, it is also mainly focused on the prosperity and longevity of the husband.

It was a time when after my pregnancy days were over, I decided to dedicate a day fasting for the well-being of my family. It was a very conscious decision, and I wanted it to pass to my children because what I feel gives you a sense of satisfaction and loved, should be whole-heartedly adopted.

Your own language or religion cannot be a barrier to follow what you think is ethically correct. Initially all my family and friends were astonished, but the very next year they followed me which was very interesting to see.

In Assam, rate of celebrating Karwa Chauth is less but it is going to increase tremendously in days to come because of the open outlook which North-Eastern states are proud of and also the enthusiasm of Eastern women. They know how to lighten up even the smallest of occasions.

Married couples start preparations for Karwa Chauth in advance. They buy jewellery, make-up and other ornaments for the special day much in advance. They wear attractive sarees or chunris, particularly in red, pink or other bridal colours. They adorn themselves with many ornaments such as nose pins, tika, bindi, bangles, ear-rings, etc.

It is really fascinating to see every woman decked up like a newly wedded bride, though they keep the entire day fast but that never hampers the glow in their face. The glow is nothing but her love for her hubby and his family.

Karwa Chauth is also very simple to prepare for, the food items are easy to make which a married woman has to eat before the sun rises. It is called Sargi which includes phini, sweet maththi, various kinds of parathas, fruits and dry fruits with an equal number of puas, which the mother in law prepares for her daughter in law.

Thali

In modern days and recent times, women keeps Karwa Chauth fast and yet come to office, attending meetings with equal energy and zeal and no sign of tiredness. When I was in Raipur, I met another strong lady, my colleague who taught me a beautiful lesson of life.

She is originally from Bengal, but got married to a Pathak boy. After marriage, she started observing fast and celebrated Karwa Chauth every year. We used to sit in one cabin and I noticed her not munching anything since morning which was unusual for both of us as we both are foodie Bengalis. It was Karwa Chauth that day.

We used to order samosas, bread omelletes, but that day she would not eat anything. She was busy attending her calls and doing her official work and her spirit and passion was undivided for her hubby. Her joy was to complete her official duty, trying to keep every commitment at ease. I was speechless

Her parents or in laws were not in Raipur, so she herself made the Sargi and parents just deposited the amount in her account as it is a custom.  It made me wonder again how her Bengali parents adopted their daughter’s newly married hubby’s customs and traditions.

The items needed to perform Karwa Chauth are not much, compared to Bengalis, where you are in a run to search and find those Pooja materials and order it or you hire it from the priest for a day, if you are not so religious. Below are the items to perform the puja:

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Khar Served

  • Idol of Goddess Parvati
  • Pitcher filled with water
  • A diya or earthen pot
  • A beautiful decorated chalni which is easily available and can be used it every year
  • A plate of dry fruits or sweets
  • Some grains
  • A pooja thali
  • Kum Kum
  • Incense sticks
  • A fancy cloth to cover the thali

This is what you need to prepare for the pooja and you are done. Women put mehendi, usually during the previous night to beautifully decorate their hands and palm. They decorate pooja thalis and visit friends and relatives.

Woman with mehendi in her hand

Late in the afternoon, women go to the temple or someone’s place who has organized the Pooja. They sit in a circle with their pooja thali and an elderly lady or a priest narrates the story of Karwa Chauth. While the story has been narrated, the women pass their thalis in the circle. There are some variations in the rituals depending on the community

In Punjabis community, Karwa Chauth song is sung seven times, the first six of which describes some of the activities that are taboo during the fast and the seventh describes lifting of those restriction with the conclusion of the fast.

woman looking at her hubby through the chalni
woman looking at her hubby through the chalni

In Rajasthan, before offering water seven times the fasting woman is asked Dhai to which she responds Suhag Ne Dhai. In Rajasthan, stories are told my older women in the family including narratives of Karwa Chauth, Shiv Parvati and Ganesh. In earlier times, an idol of Gauri Mata was made using earth and cow dung which has been replaced with an idol of Parvati. Each fasting woman lights an earthen lamp in her thali while listening to the Karwa story.

Among the Bengalis, my Grandma used to tell me the story of Sabitri brata which means the Tale of the sacrifice and profound love and dedication of Sabitri, who after her hubby’s untimely death was so devastated that she travelled to the land of Yama, to bring back her hubby’s life.

This episode is a remarkable example of how a woman is capable to win every battle if she prays from the bottom of her heart.This day is celebrated in the month of May or June where married women dresses up like a new bride does Puja with 9 fruits. Sabitri Brata is fasting day observed by the Hindu married women of Bengal on the Amabasya, the last day of dark fortnight in the month of Jyestha. Married women listen to the story of Sabitri and Satyaban. In Odisha this festival is celebrated with great pomp and show.

Social media and television have large impact spreading the importance of the festival on a large scale. In North Eastern states, people were not much enlightened with the oneness of Karwa Chauth. Films industry, specially Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge of Raj and Simran.

DDLJ
The famous Karwa Chauth fast breaking scene form the film “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”

Their epic love story influenced so many young couples to keep fast. This love story became immortal when Raj observed fast the whole day to reciprocate his love for Simran. His love for Simran was so much admired that men of the house started keeping fast along with their wives, showing their love and gratitude towards their life partners.

I believe this Festival is a prodigious way to show your love and care for your life partner. Expensive gift is a momentary happiness your heart perceives, but your action speaks louder. Anyway, I believe healthy, long lasting relationship requires effort from both sides.

In previous days, all rules were printed only for the women which is gradually becoming less. But to completely change, we are still struggling to accept the fact Gender Equality. Men keeping fast for their wife is an incredible attempt to exhilarate the equality in Men – Women relationship.

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