The date for Karwa chauth in 2014 is 11 October. It has become more of a community festival. Karvachauth is one such occasion when most married Hindu women in North India seek the blessings of God for their husband's long life. This festival is observed on the fourth day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin, which is also called Kartik according to some calendars. The Karwa Chauth is being celebrated since ages and it gives more strength to the relationship of a husband and wife.
Though a strict fast , with neither food nor water, this festival is quite popular among the newlyweds. A few days before the festival, markets are full of items needed for the festival. The preparations for this festival start a week in advance. Appointments are made with beauty parlours, hands are decorated with intricate mehendi designs and jewelery and cloth merchants do a brisk business.
Karva Chauth : The Start of the Day
On this day the women get up before sunrise. They worship Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, Kartikeya and the moon. The blessings of the Gods are invoked for longevity and prosperity of their husbands and children. Mothers-in-law give their daughters-in-law sumptuous food called 'Sargi' 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 the women do not take any food or water.
Dressing Up for Karwa Chauth Festival
In the evening of Karwa Chauth, the women to cherish the joy of adorning bridal finery. Many times, the newly wed wear their wedding dress on this auspicious occasion, usually the ghagra-choli or Banarsi saris, embellished with the old-new shimmer of gold, diamonds and rubies. After dressing up, she receives gifts from the mother-in-law.
Karwa Chauth Evening Puja
Before evening, the married woman receives the baya or a basket full of goodies from her mother, which is meant for the mother-in-law. The basket contains sweets, mathadi, fruits and a sari. Before the sun sets, most of the women in a locality gather in one house and prepare a corner for the puja. This puja chowk is beautifully decorated and a small platform is prepared against a wall. On this, the image of Gauri Mata or Goddess Parvati is placed. In the olden days, this image was made of cow-dung.
The Process of Puja in Karwa Chauth
A sari (in the baya) is a must for the first Karwa Chauth of a girl. One thing to be taken care of is that the baya reaches the girl's in-laws home, where the girl has gone during the course of the day, before the evening. The baya is given to the mother-in-law after the manasna. The preparation for the puja stars at about 4 or 5 p.m. someone older, who is willing, or the housewife herself as the situation demands, prepares a suitable place in the puja room, in case it is a big room which can accommodate all the women who have been invited for the baya. The puja place is decorated with kharia matti, which has been soaked in water two to three hours earlier, and takes a semi-liquid form. A chowk like in any other puja - is decorated on the floor. This whole chowk should be placed against a wall on one side, where a similarly decorated patta is kept, on which the Gaur Mata is seated. The Gaur Mata used to be made with cowdung in the shape of a human figure, just about two inches tall. Nowadays, a picture or an idol of Parvati is placed on the patta just about an hour or so before moonrise, those who have observed the vrat, dress up again in their chunris or in red or pink clothes with chonp and bindi on their foreheads. Everyone now gathers around the place where a carpet or durrie is spread over the leaving space for the puja items.
Narration of Karwa Chauth Vrata Katha
An elderly woman of the family narrates the legend of Karva Chauth Katha. Even a widow can narrate this story. The women then pray for the long life and welfare of their husbands. While chanting the prayers, they pass their bayas from one to another.
The Worship of Moon in Karwa Chauth
Women wait for the moon rise begins after sunset, and as soon as the moon is sighted, prayers are offered to the moon. Once the moon is sighted, women gather on the terrace and offer prayers to the moon 7 times. They see the moon through chalni (a metallic ring with net). Then they look at their husband's face the same way. They pray for their husband's and family's welfare. Then they have a sip of water and in this way the fast comes to an end. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, women decorate the entrance walls of their home with drawings of goddess Parvati, the Moon and the Sun. The evening puja is performed with earthen lamps and a 'karva'. (Earthen pitcher). Before looking at the moon, the women pray to the figurines at their doorstep.
In state of Rajasthan, the women make 'Karvas' with mud containers, filled with rice and wheat. Most women wear their wedding day veils on this occasion. In state of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh also many women observe this fast. The first 'Karva Chauth' of any new bride is a very important festival. New clothes, new Jewellery and gifts from both mother and mother-in-law are received. The wedding day outfits are worn once again, henna is decoratively applied on hands and feet and the family gathers to celebrate it with them.
It is important for a woman to be very careful with her fast and once the fast completes, she is blessed with the blessings of Almighty. And, God also bestow long life to her husband.