INDIA INFO: India - Karva Chauth Festival

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Karva Chauth Festival

Karva Chauth is a day long fast undertaken by married Hindu women who offer prayers seeking the welfare, prosperity, well being, and long life of their husbands.

In the olden days, a woman was dependent on a man, whether he was her father, brother, husband or Guru. Without a man she was considered incomplete. Even today Indian women follow this tradition no matter how liberated they have become.

Karva Chauth is considered an important and auspicious day for married women. Karva Chauth falls about nine days before diwali some time in October or November. It is the most important fast observed by the women of North India. The festival of Karva Chauth was originally emerged as a day to celebrate the season of autumn and enjoy the company of friends and relatives. But later on, many mythological legends were added to give it a religious touch.

A woman keeps this fast for the well being of her husband, who becomes her guardian after she leaves her parents home. Her husband provides her with food, shelter, clothing, morality, comfort and happiness.

This is indeed a very tough fast to observe as it starts before sunrise and ends after worshipping the moon, which usually rises at about 8.45 in night. No food or water is to be taken after 4 a.m. or after sunrise. This fast is kept even in modern educated homes, becoming a symbol of the emotion that a woman feels for her husband.

A red sari is a must for the first Karva Chauth after marriage of a girl. She decorates her hands and feet with henna, dresses generally in red attire, (as red is considered as bridal colour). wears bindis, colorful bangles, and the best of jewelry just like a bride. In Punjab there is the custom of the mother in law gifting all the puja articles and saree along with the accessories to the daughter in law. It is called “sargi”. In other places, the mother of the girl sends all these to her daughter’s house.

The preparation for the puja starts at about 4 or 5 p.m and the best place is the terrace or the open courtyard, where the moon is clearly visible. It is very pleasant since the weather is not cold during this season. The puja place is decorated and the fast is broken only after seeing the moon. Finally, when the moon is sighted, the wife goes out to view it. The moon is worshiped and then she turns to view her husband's face through the pores of a strainer, praying for his long life. After performing the puja, it’s finally time for food.

Today women are not dependent on their husbands but it is still refreshing to see a loving wife keeping the fast for the well being of her husband.

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