Karwa Chauth, the festival of immense significance for married women in India, falls on fourth day in the month of Karthik according to Hindu calendar. On this day, they observe fast from morning till evening for the well being of their husbands. The tradition of observing fast for one's husband has been passed-on from generations. It is considered that praying to Goddess Gauri (Parvati) on this auspicious day is very propitious. Karwa Chauth festivity is marked with elaborate ceremonies. Dressed up in best traditional attires with mehndi or henna designs on their palms and bindis on forehead, married women gather for Karwa Chauth puja, where women recall Karwa Chauth stories and sing Karwa Chauth songs. Karwa Chauth is celebrated with much fervor in northern parts of India, particularly, in the states of Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan,Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The preparations of Karwa Chauth festivity begin well in advance. Women buy ornaments and dresses for the special occasion..
Karwa Chauth Festival Celebrations
On Karwa Chauth day, married women get up early in the morning, go for ablutions and pray to God. Following this, they take a special meal called as Sargi, which mostly consists of grains and fruits, given by mother in law. They then begin their fast at sunrise, adorned themselves with best of traditional costumes, bangles, bindis on forehead and decked their hands with hennas. The fast continues throughout the day, until moonrise. Married women strictly follow fast and do not even take a drop of water. During the day, they spent time in leisure activities such as playing games, applying mehndi or henna on hands and having getting together with friends and relatives. In the evening, married women gather at common place or temple where elaborate Karwa Chauth puja is performed. They get seated in the form of a circle and carry plate or thali that is filled puja essentials like with chandan (sandal paste), kumkum (sacred powder), rice, pot of water and earthen lamp. An idol of Goddess Gauri (Parvati) and earthen pitcher are placed at the centre of circle where women are seated. The idol of Goddess Gauri is usually made out of cow dung. Elders narrate the stories of Karwa Chauth and women sing songs relating to Karwa Chauth. It is a custom that married women should see the reflection of moon in a plate of water before they end their fast. Hence, after the puja ceremony, all the women wait for moon to appear. When moon appears, women look at moon through a sieve and offer prayers. They then see their husbands through the same sieve and pray for their long life. Husbands then offer sweet and water to their wives to break the fast. This is then followed by sumptuous dinner.
The herculean fast observed by the women for the longevity and well-being of their husband and the husbands care to feed her with food, helping her end the fast are the main part of this festival. These gestures definitely reinforce the marital relationship and that is the ultimate objective of this festival.