Karwa Chauth – Fast for the Married Hindu Woman
Karwa Chauth is a traditional Hindu festival for married women and is celebrated in some parts of India. It is celebrated on the Chaturthi tithi after the full Moon in the month of Kartik.
In 2021 Karwa Chauth falls on Saturday, October 23rd.
Karwa Chauth meaning
Karwa means pot in Hindi (earthen pot) and Chauth means fourth in Hindi (in the month of Kartik) so Karwa Chauth means offering Argya to the moon by using water from an earthen pot on the Chaturthi tithi in Kartik month.
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.
Following a bath early in the morning, well before dawn, the woman adorns new clothes and partakes of a meal of very select grains and fruit. For the remainder of the day, the woman is bound to abstain from food and even water, though the more strict rules of observance are not always kept. In the textbook version of this fast, various items including a karwa, an earthen pot with a spout, are collected and worship is offered to Siva and Parvati.
In the evening the women, cherish the joy of adorning bridal finery. Many times, the newlywed 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.
The Pooja 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, henna, etc.
The pre-dawn meal that a mother-in-law gives to her daughter-in-law is called Sargi. 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 henna 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 Parvati, 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.
Earlier an idol of Gaur Mata was made using earth and cow dung. Now just an idol of Goddess Parwati is kept. Everyone 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 woman 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. And then they turn to their husbands who are near them and touch his feet. They pray for the safety, prosperity, and long life of their husbands. This marks the end of the day-long fast.
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Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha
“A long long time ago, there lived a beautiful princess by the name of Veeravati. When she was of marriageable age, Veeravati was married to a king. On the occasion of the first Karva Chauth after her marriage, she went to her parents’ house.”
“After sunrise, she observed a strict fast. However, the queen was too delicate and couldn’t stand the rigors of fasting. By evening, Veeravati was too weak and fainted. Now, the queen had seven brothers who loved her dearly. They couldn’t stand the plight of their sister and decided to end her fast by deceiving her. They made a fire at the nearby hill and asked their sister to see the glow. They assured her that it was the moonlight and since the moon had risen, she could break her fast.”
“However, the moment the gullible queen ate her dinner, she received the news that her husband, the king, was dead. The queen was heartbroken and rushed to her husband’s palace. On the way, she met Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. Parvati informed her that the king had died because the queen had broken her fast by watching a false moon. However, when the queen asked her for forgiveness, the goddess granted her the boon that the king would be revived but would be ill.”
“When the queen reached the palace, she found the king lying unconscious with hundreds of needles inserted in his body. Each day, the queen managed to remove one needle from the king’s body. Next year, on the day of Karva Chauth, only one needle remained embedded in the body of the unconscious king.”
“The queen observed a strict fast that day and when she went to the market to buy the Karva for the puja, her maid removed the remaining needle from the king’s body. The king regained consciousness and mistook the maid for his queen. When the real queen returned to the palace, she was made to serve as a maid.”
“However, Veeravati was true to her faith, and religiously observed the Karva Chauth Vrat. Once when the king was going to some other kingdom, he asked the real queen (now turned maid) if she wanted anything. The queen asked for a pair of identical dolls. The king obliged and the queen kept singing the song ” Roli ki Goli ho gayi… Goli ki Roli ho gayi ” (the queen has turned into a maid and the maid has turned into a queen).”
“On being asked by the king as to why did she keep repeating that song, Veeravati narrated the entire story. The king repented and restored the queen to her royal status. It was only the queen’s devotion and her faith that won her husband’s affection and the blessings of Goddess Parvati.”
The Story of Karwa
There was a woman named Karwa who was deeply in love with her husband and this intense love gave her lots of spiritual powers. Once her husband was bathing in a river and that was when he was attacked by a crocodile. Now the courageous Karwa bound the crocodile with cotton yarn and remembered Yama the lord of death.
Yama was seriously afraid of being cursed by such a devoted and doting wife and thus he sent the crocodile to hell and gave life back to her husband. The Story of Satyavan and Savitri: It is said that when Yama, the God of death came to acquire Satyavan’s life, Savitri begged in front of Yama to grant him life. But Yama was adamant and seeing that Savitri stopped eating and drinking and followed Yama as he took her husband away.
Yama now said Savitri that she can ask of any other boon except the life of her husband. Savitri being a very clever woman asked Yama that she wants to be blessed with children. She is a devoted and loyal wife and won’t let any kind of adultery. Thus, Yama had to restore life into Satyavan so that Savitri can have children.
Suggested Read: Full Karva Chauth Vrat Katha
Karwa Chauth song sung by women while exchanging thalis.
“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……. (6)
“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
“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…….”
Karva Chauth song sung by women while offering water to the moon.
This song is sung at night while offering water to the moon. It is sung 5 times. A parikrama of the moon is done each time after offering ark. For parikrama, the lady turns a full circle standing in one place.
” Sir Dhadi,
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Sieving moon in the evening
It is a tradition that women catch the glimpse of the moon while praying during moon-rise. The fasting lady sees the shining moon through a sieve (Chhalni) and gives Arghya to the moon and pray for the prosperity and the long life of her husband. They touch the feet of their husbands and seek the blessings of their husbands in the form of protection, love, and respect. Take water and food after seeing the moon in the evening.