A one-day festival celebrated by Hindu people in northern India which forms a major part in a married women’s life is Karva Chauth. In this festival married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands. This fast is traditionally celebrated in the Rajasthan, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab. The beginning of Rabi crop coincides with this festival. Sometimes, unmarried women join the fast for their fiancee or desired husband.
Reason of celebrating Karva Chauth:
Karva is another word for 'pot' and chauth means 'fourth' in Hindi. The festival falls on the fourth day after the full moon, in the month of kartik. This festival originated in northern part of India. Women often prayed for the safe return of their husband who went to wars. Another belief of celebrating this festival is that during early period girls use to get married in their teenage only. They use to get married so far that they cannot travel to their parent house very soon. For removing her loneliness with her in laws there started a new ritual of befriending any of her friend of her age only and the desired girl would be married in the same village to give her company. The desired girl would be called the god friends. They can interfere in any of their matters with their in laws. Thus Karva Chauth started as a festival to celebrate this special bond of friendship between the brides and their god-friends.
What adds to the festivities of Karva Chauth !!
A few days before Karva Chauth, married women would buy new karvas and paint them on the outside with beautiful designs. Inside they would put bangles and ribbons, home-made sweets, make-up items, and small clothes. The women would then visit each other on the day of Karva Chauth and exchange these karvas.
What adds to the pre-dawn meals !!
On the day of the fast, women from Punjab get awake to eat and drink just before sunrise. In Uttar Pradesh, celebrants eat feni with milk in sugar on the eve of the festival. It is said that this helps them to survive without water for the whole day. In Punjab, Sargi is an important part of this pre-dawn meal and always includes feni. Usually mother-in-law send sargi to her daughter-in-law.
Things which give them strength to complete the fast:
On this day women typically keep a fast and they only eat and drink water after giving Ardhya to the moon. The day passes by meeting friends and relatives. It is a good time for community festivities and exchanging of items. Parents often send gifts to their married daughters. The dresses of the fasting women include red, golden color. These color signifies the married culture and their divine love for their husbands. In Punjab usually the ladies wear salwar suits, in Uttar Pradesh women’s wear saris.
Rituals of Karva Chauth:
The first six feris describe some of the activities that are taboo during the fast and the seventh describes the lifting of those restrictions with the conclusion of the fast. Total 7 feris are done. In Rajasthan, karvas are exchanged among themselves. Before offering water seven times the fasting woman is asked "Dhapi ki Ni Dhapi?" (are you satiated?), to which she responds, "Jal se Dhapi, Suhaag se na Dhapi" (I am satiated by water, but not from [love of] my husband). Each fasting woman lights an earthen lamp in her thali while listening to the Karva story. Sindoor, incense sticks and rice are also kept in the thali.
The story of Karva Chauth is narrated and songs are sung collectively by women performing the feris (passing their thalis around in the circle).
Completion of Fast:
In Uttar Pradesh, the elderly women narrates the story of Veervati. This ceremony is concluded by the waiting of moon and this day the moon is the main guest as it comes late. Once the moon is visible, it is compulsory for the husband to be near her wife, for his reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve, or through the cloth of a duppata. Water is offered to the moon in order to secure its blessings. She then turns to her husband in the same way and views his face through sieve only. After this the husband takes the water from the thali and gives it to her wife and makes her eat the first bite of the day. By doing this the fast is completed.Kalyanpuja