It would not be wrong to term India as the land of festivities, especially this phase from the beginning of the Navratri till Diwali it is almost a riot of many varied and fun-filled festive moments. The next in line is of course Karwa Chauth on October 17th. Popular across the north Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, women observe a day-long fast, often without water to pray for the safety, success and long life of their husbands.
This festival is generally followed strictly in accordance with the Hindu Almanac on the fourth day after full moon in the month of Kartik.
Karwa Chauth Rituals
Preparations for it start at least 3-4 days before. The fact that this festival follows the Kharif Harvest in Northern India becomes all the more reason for it to be an opportunity to exchange gifts.
Women wake up before dawn to eat and drink something that would provide sustenance to them for the entire day. ‘Feni’, a vermicelli variant mixed in milk and sugar is an important part of this special breakfast before dawn. In Punjab normally the mother-in-law makes a gift hamper comprising of this ‘Feni’ and other gifts and offers it to the daughter in law, it is called the Sargi.
Traditionally, women who are fasting on this day do not indulge in any house work and spend the day meeting relatives, exchanging gifts and applying henna on to each other. In the evening, women come all dressed in bridal finery with matching jewelry, henna and sit in small circles with the puja thali in their hand. Normally an elderly lady or a priest narrates the story of Karwa Chauth to them.
Legend of Karwa Chauth
Though there are many versions and stories that are narrated glorifying the importance of Karwa Chauth, one particularly popular one is about the beautiful queen Veervati and her seven brothers. She came to her paternal house to celebrate her first Karwa Chauth and started it off strictly in accordance with rituals. But as the day passed thirst and hunger made her miserable and it pained her 7 brothers to see her suffer this way.
To ease her out of her misery, they installed a mirror in a papal tree nearby and made it look like the moon. She mistook it and broke her fast after seeing it. Soon she received the word that her husband, the King has suddenly taken very ill. She instantly started for home. Enroute she met Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati, and they told her that her husband has passed away. She was heartbroken and inconsolable. Goddess Parvati calmed her and explained to her that her brothers had tricked her, and her husband could regain his life if she did the fast again with complete devotion. She begged the Goddess to forgive her brothers and completed the fast with complete devotion once again. Soon after he regains his consciousness, and both are united.
It is supposed to have been originally started by Draupadi praying for the safety success of her husbands.
In modern times its significance comes out more as day to celebrate and love and understanding between couples with many husbands to resorting to a daylong fast along with their wives.
Karwa Chauth Shubh Muhurat
Karwa Chauth 2019: 17th October (Thursday)
Karwa Chauth Puja Muhurat- 17:46 to 19:02
Chaturthi tithi Begins- 06:48 (17th October)
Chaturthi tithi End- 07:28 (18th October)
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