Karwa Chauth or Karva Chauth, a traditional Hindu festival celebrated to embolden the bond between married couples is being celebrated in the country today. On Karwa Chauth, married women for the good fortune, life of their husbands keep a day long fast and offer prayers to God and Goddess for a happy married life. Karwa Chauth festival is celebrated by performing a number of rituals, traditions during the entire day by married women. Karwa Chauth fast begins on the sunrise and ends after moonrise, the festival has a historical significance and importance.
Karwa Chauth which is mainly celebrated in northwestern part of India, is also practiced in other parts of the country. Karwa Chauth falls on the 4th day of after the full moon day in the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Kartik. Karva means ‘pot’ and Chauth means ‘fourth’, which is a reference to the dark-fortnight also called as Krishna Paksh. Karwa Chauth day is also known as Karak Chaturthi (करक चतुर्थी). Married women for the good fortune of their husband offer water to the moon as part of their prayer, known as Argha (अर्घ) by holding an Atta Chani in another hand. The water is offered by keeping the Atta Chani between the moon and water container. Karwa Chauth is very significant during Puja and it is also given as ‘Dan’ (charity) to the Brahmin woman.
History behind celebrating Karwa Chauth
Karwa Chauth which is mainly celebrated by married women in Hindu community, the festival has different stories about its origination. One story about the origination of this festival is related to the bond of feminine friendship. This has more significance in those marriages which are arranged. As women in arrange marriage resides in a house where everybody is a stranger. Therefore, in order to get create friendly relationship with other member, a ritual which is performed at the time of marriage itself. The bride’s friend would usually be of the same age or little elder, typically married into the same village and not directly related to the in-laws. This relationship of feminine friendship is considered akin to a blood relationship and it is believed that Karva Chauth festival was evolved to include celebrating this special bond of friendship.
Karwa Chauth and the legend of Mahabharat
It is believed that Draupadi, in the epic Mahabharat, had also observed this fast. It happened when Arjun went to the Nilgiris for penance and rest of the Pandavas faced many problems. A more restless Draupadi during that era remembered Lord Krishna to sought his help. According to the legend, Draupadi was the reminded by Lord Krishna that Goddess Parvati once was in similar situation when she had to sought Lord Shiva’s guidance for which she had been advised to observe the fast of Karva Chauth.
Karwa Chauth and the legend of Karva
One epic story which is believed to have originated this festival is the story of woman named Karva, who was truly devoted to her husband. It is believed that her intense love towards her husband accorded her some spiritual powers. Once while taking a bath at a river, her husband was attacked by a crocodile. Karva, his wife who was gifted by spiritual powers bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn and asked Yama (the god of death) to send teh crocodile to hell. Initially, Yama refused to do this but getting frightened by Karva who had threatened to curse Yama, sent the crocodile to hell and blessed Karva’s husband with long life. It was after this epic story, the festival of Karva Chauth is celebrated with great faith and belief.
Karwa Chauth and Satyavan-Savitri story
Another brave story that had set an example of a wife’s love and devotion to her husband is the story of Satyavan and Savitri. The story says that Lord Yama when came to procure Satyavan’s soul, Savitri begged him to grant him life. She stopped consuming food, or drinking water and started following Yama who carried away her dead husband. Yama then asked that Savitri could ask for any other wish but except her husband ‘slife. Savitri then asked that she should be blessed with children for which Yama agreed. But being a Pati-Vrat (a devoted wife), he Yama knew that Savitri would never let any other man to be the father of her children. Therefore he was left with no choice but to give her back her husband’s life.