Karwa Chauth 2021: Date and Significance•
Posted on September 21 2021
Karwa Chauth is a one-day festival that is typically celebrated by married women from many states in North India. This festival is extremely popular in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana. The term Karwa Chauth is derived from two Sanskrit words karwa and chauth. Karwa refers to a small earthen pot and chauth means fourth. Married women from the South Indian state Andhra Pradesh celebrate a similar festival called Alta Tade.
Karwa Chauth is celebrated from sunrise to moonrise on the fourth day of the Hindu lunar month Kartika. In 2021, this day falls on October 24 and starts at 3:01 AM. The festival celebration is marked by married women observing a fast without drinking even water for long life and good health of their husbands.
The fasting style differs from one state to another. However, the reason for the fasting is the same in all the states.
For example, Punjabi women eat and drink on the day of Karwa Chauth just before sunrise. This pre-dawn meal is primarily sargi and must include fenia. Sargi is ideally a meal prepared or sent by a mother-in-law for her daughter-in-law a day before the festival and contains food like salted nuts, sweets, dry fruits and mathri that give the woman energy to fast through the day. Sometimes, items like sindoor, jewellery and sarees are also given along with the sargi.
On the other hand, women from Uttar Pradesh start fasting after a meal of soot feni and sugar in milk on the previous day. They believe that this meal helps them to fast on Karwa Chauth without even drinking water.
The preparations for the celebrations start a couple of days ahead of the festival. Married women buy various items such as dresses, jewellery, henna and puja items like karwa lamps.
The rituals start with married women waking up early before dawn during Karak Chaturti or Brahma Muhurat. After bath, they pray to deities like Karwa Mata along with Lord Shiva and his two sons Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. They also take a sankalpa or pledge to observe their fast with utmost sincerity and devotion. They wear traditional outfits like sarees, salwars or lehengas on this day and decorate their hands with beautiful patterns using henna.
In the evening, there is a women-only ceremony where women wear traditional dresses in red, orange or gold colours. They sit with their puja thali in a circle and an elderly woman narrates a story pertaining to Karwa Chauth with pauses in between. During these pauses, the women pass their thalis around seven times and sing the puja song. In villages, women exchange karwas filled with items like handkerchiefs, bhindis, bangles and sweets.
In Rajasthan, there is an extra ritual where one fasting woman asks another if she is satiated and the other woman replies that she has been satiated only by water and not her husband. Similarly in Uttar Pradesh, after the puja, they offer some prasad to the deity and hand over the puja thali to their sister-in-law or mother-in-law.
Once the puja is over, the moon rise is the next most awaited event. They wait in the garden or any open area with their husbands for the moon to rise. Once they spot the moon through a sieve, they pray to the Moon God and offer some water in a karwa. After this, they look at their life partners through the same sieve. The sieve is believed to filter out all negative emotions. Finally, the husband takes a piece of sweet from the puja thali and puts it in his wife’s mouth. The woman breaks her fast with this sweet.
Story Behind Karwa Chauth
There are various stories associated to this festival. According to one of them, there was once a queen called Veervati who had seven caring brothers. She left for her husband’s house after marriage and came to her parental house for the first Karwa Chauth. She observed a strict fast and began to feel uneasy by evening before the moonrise. Her brothers could not bear to see her like this anymore and requested her to eat or drink something but she refused.
They created a mirror using a pipal tree and set it up to look as if the moon had risen. The brothers then called their sister and showed her the fake moon. As soon as she saw the moon, she broke her fast. The moment she did this, she got the news that her husband was dead. Veervati was struck by grief and rushed towards her husband. On the way, she encountered Maa Parvati and Lord Shiva who make her understand how she had been tricked and tell her to be careful next time. The goddess then cut her finger and gave the queen a few drops of her holy blood. Veervati sprinkled a few drops of this blood on her husband’s dead body and brought him to life.
The first Karwa Chauth is very important and a special day for any married woman. Relatives and friends drop by to pass on their wishes to the couple. Some of them also give the bride gifts. She also gets a gift from her husband. In some regions, a custom called Baya is followed wherein the mother of the woman offers gifts to the lady members in her daughter’s husband’s house.
Written by Deepthi K