So this year I celebrated my first Karva Chauth. Karva Chauth is a one-day festival celebrated by Hindu women in many countries in which married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands.
The fast is traditionally celebrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Himchal Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab. The festival always falls on the fourth day after the full moon, in the Hindu calendar. Sometimes, unmarried women join the fast for their husband to be or desired husbands.
We started the celebrations on Monday with me getting my henna done.
Next was the actual Karva Chauth day which fell on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 this year.
The fast begins with dawn. Fasting women do not eat during the day. In traditional observances of the fast, the fasting woman does no housework. Parents often send gifts to their married daughters and their children. My family follows the tradition of saargi which is either the mother or the mother-in-law sending a thali (tray) with food that is to be eaten early in the morning. Depending on the mother and family, the thali contains clothes, jewelry, bindhis, makeup, sweets, and sindoor.
I got up at 3AM, took a shower and ate seven bites of seven different foods and a whole piece of Indian bread that was in my saargi with a tall glass of water. My fast began immediately after. No water, no food for the rest of the day.
At around 2pm I got dressed to go to the temple and start rituals.
Women dress in red, gold or orange clothing as those are auspicious colors and wear jewelry. Some women will even wear their bridal outfit and all the jewelry they wore when they got married. I wore a red and gold sari that was gifted to me during my wedding. I had planned on wearing my bridal outfit however the hooks on my blouse and some stitching could not be done so I settle on this sari.
Off to the temple we go! Let me tell you, driving in a sari is no easy task people.
The women who are fasting sit in a circle with their puja thalis. Depending on region and community, a version of the story of Karva Chauth is narrated, with regular pauses. The storyteller is usually an older woman or a priest, if one is present. Since we were at the temple, there was a priest who narrated the story for us.
In the pauses, the Karva Chauth puja song is sung collectively as the ladies perform the pheras (rounds in which we pass our thalis around in the circle).
The first six describe some of the activities that are taboo during the fast and the seventh describes the lifting of those restrictions with the conclusion of the fast. The forbidden activities include weaving cloth, pleading with or attempting to please anyone, and awakening anyone who is asleep. For the first six pheras we sing,
“..Veero kudiye Karvara, Sarv suhagan Karvara, Aye katti naya teri naa, Kumbh chrakhra feri naa, Aar pair payeen naa, Ruthda maniyen naa, Suthra jagayeen naa, Ve veero kuriye Karvara, Ve sarv suhagan Karvara……
For the seventh phera, we sing
“…Veero kudiye Karvara, Sarv suhagan Karvara, Aye katti naya teri nee, Kumbh chrakhra feri bhee, Aar pair payeen bhee, Ruthda maniyen bhee, Suthra jagayeen bhee, Ve veero kuriye Karvara, Ve sarv suhagan Karvara…”
At the temple and usually a priest or an elderly woman of the family narrates the story Veervati. Thereafter, the women fasting offer baayana (a bunch of goodies like sweets, cash, fruits, and other India treats to the idols and hand it over to their mother-in-law or sister-in-law.
The phera ritual is concluded and women fasting await the rising of the moon.
Here I am done with all the prayers and offerings. I go home now to wait for my hubby and the moon to come out.
It is said whatever day Karva Chauth falls on the moon always makes a late appearance. This day was no different. The moon came out in the hour of ten when I finally was able to break fast.
Once the moon is visible, depending on the region and community, it is customary for a fasting woman, with her husband nearby, to view its reflection in a through a sieve that has a little diya (candle) sitting in it.
I then turn to my husband and view his face indirectly in the same manner. I repeat this seven times throwing rice behind me each time.
In some regions, the woman says a brief prayer asking for her husband’s life. It is believed that at this stage, spiritually strengthened by her fast, the woman can successfully confront and defeat death.
We then give the moon water to drink and our husband gives us water. We in return give him water.
We feed each other sweets as well and I touch my husbands feet for blessings and out of respect. We are done then. Time to eat!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my first Karva Chauth! It was quite an adventure and I honestly can’t wait for the next one. I would love to hear about yours. Leave me a comment or send me message.