Karwa Chauth: Rituals & Legends Behind the Festival
The term “Karwa” means lamp and an earthen pot with a spout while the “chauth” means fourth day of Krishna Paksha in the month of kartik. It is also known as Niraja Vrat. This year it will fall on Nov 1, 2023. While married women observe the fast for the longevity and well-being of their husbands, some maidens observe it with a desire to get a good partner. Women primarily observe fast for the safety and health of their husbands and ask Lord Shiva to protect their husbands from every difficulty. Women break their fast by making various offerings to the moon. Here, we are discussing some important aspects of Karwa Chauth.
On the day of Karwa Chauth, the Shiva parivaar, that is, Lord Shiva himself, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya are supposed to be worshipped. The family of Lord Shiva is considered to be the most ideal one and both Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are known to confer great marital happiness and material prosperity. The other deity who holds utmost importance on this day is the Moon.
Beliefs Behind Karwa Chauth:
In the days of yore, the festival of Karwa Chauth was celebrated by a bride and a specially chosen woman to be her best friend in her in-laws’ place as per Karwa Chauth story. The bride could confide anything to this ‘friend’ in her in-laws’ place, and it was mostly a friendship with the aim to help the bride get to know her in-laws better and break the ice to establish communications.
However, over time, this aspect of the festival fizzled out and women started observing a fast on the day, four days into the Kartik month, to pray for the longevity of her husband and celebrate the conjugal bonding on Karva Chauth.
Some of the most important paraphernalia that forms a part of this festival are: Kumkum (Vermillion), Honey, Incense Sticks, Flowers, Cow Milk, Curd, Ghee (Clarified Butter), Lamps, Wheat, Camphor, Sieve, etc. You can also worship a Lagna Vighna Yantra or a blissful and harmonious married life.
The Military Angle:
Karwa Chauth also used to be celebrate in the north and north-western parts of India by the wives of soldiers when they were about to depart on a long-distance journey in the line of duty to protect the country. Their wives prayed that their husbands emerge victoriously and return safely. It is spoken of in the Mahabharata that Krishna told Draupadi that if she fasted on the day of Karwa Chauth, the Pandavas would come back safely from the war.
Karwa Chauth falls in the wheat sowing season, that is at the beginning of the Rabi crop season. In ancient times wheat was stored in huge earthen pots, also called ‘Karwa’, and since it falls on the fourth day of the Kartik month, it began to be called Karwa Chauth. Women would pray for their husbands to reap a rich harvest. Then there is the belief that if unmarried women observe a fast on this day, they are likely to get a very handsome husband.
Karwa Chauth symbolises the spirit of romance and affection between a wife and her husband. Some Bollywood films have also beautifully depicted how Karwa Chauth is celebrated across the country.
Undoubtedly, like every festival, Karwa Chauth has many ancient stories behind it. Most of these tales show how women made sacrifices for their husbands and how their love is pure and eternal. One of the popular stories is about the beautiful queen named Veervati. She was married to a good-looking king and had seven brothers. In the first year of marriage, she observed the first karwa chauth by conducting a strict fast. As the night proceeded, Veervati started experiencing thirst and hunger. She became uneasy and it was difficult for her to keep fast. However, she still refused to eat or drink anything. Her brother could not see her suffering and decided to come up with a solution.
They created a mirror with a pipal tree in the backyard and made Veervati believe that the moon had risen. She believed them and broke the fast. Immediately, she got the news that her husband was dead. She was completely devastated and left for her husband’s house. She stopped by Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati, who told her the entire truth. Maa Parvati cut her finger and gave a few drops of blood to Veervati. Goddess Parvati instructs her to be careful in the next fasting. Veervati sprinkles the holy blood on the dead body of her husband. Her husband became alive, whose credit goes to the sacrifice, immense love, and devotion of Veeravati.
DO’s & Don’ts of Karwa Chauth:
As per the Hindu tradition, Karwa Chauth is the most crucial festival for women, especially who are married. This day begins with small early morning prayer and proceeds with “Sargi”- a food platter containing the curry, parathas, coconut water, and dry fruits. Women eat sargi after the bath as it prepares them for the whole day of fasting. It keeps them energetic and allows them to stay without food and water the whole day.
On Karwa Chauth, women wake up early, finish their morning chores, and then worship Lord Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha as per the puja vidhi, and then they eat something, but this is done before Sunrise. Once the Sun rises, women start their fast, and do not even drink a drop of water as per the Karwa Chauth vrat vidhi.
After Sun-set, when the moon rises, they look at the face of their husband through a sieve, and then break their fast. Clothes of Auspicious colours for Karwa Chauth are also donned by women.
On Karwa Chauth, the women are generally advised not to indulge in strenuous activities. Moreover, even after breaking the fast, light food should be consumed. Women observing Karwa Chauth are also advised not to use scissors, needles, or knives in the food preparations either. Women of different Zodiac Signs celebrate Karwa Chauth differently, too.
Are you confused about the Karwa Chauth rituals and Muhurats? Talk to our Astrologers for expert guidance.
With Ganesha’s Grace,