Karva Chauth is one of the most awaited festivals of North India, which is celebrated by the married women. Karva Chauth Day falls on the 4th day of the Kartik month every year, some time in October or November.
The word Karva means diya (small earthen lamp) and chauth means fourth since it falls on the 4th day after the full moon in the kartik month. Karva Chauth is a fast undertaken by married women who offer prayers seeking the welfare, prosperity, well-being, and longevity of their husbands.
This is indeed a very tough fast to observe as it starts before sunrise and ends after worshipping the moon in the evening around 8:30-10:30 pm. No food or water is to be taken after having sargi at around 4-5 am or after sunrise.
The women of the neighborhood usually gather in someone’s house and perform the puja together, in the evening. A small area is prepared for the ceremony, which can be performed in any part of the house as well as in the open. An idol of Gaur Mata, or Goddess Parvati, is placed on the consecrated spot, though nowadays pictures or idols of Parvati are the norm.
In the evening, the women see the moon, while carrying a plate decorated with lit earthen lamps and a container of water. The moon is seen through a fine mesh or sieve and after paying obeisance to moon Water is offered to the moon Then women break their fast, it is preferred if they can also see the faces of their husbands before they eat or drink. Thereafter, the family sits down for a grand meal and the celebration comes to end.
Celebrated mostly by North Indians, the event of Karva Chauth is growing bigger with each passing day. Along with traditional items such as henna, beauty products and fashionable clothes, the demand of special eateries are also gearing up.
The festivities surrounding Karva Chauth encourage people to gather and socialize with friends and family, exchange gifts and share home-cooked meals. The gifts exchanged on this occasion reflects joy, splendor, brightness and happiness of a married life.
Sargi and Baya are the two most important gifting items, as without them the festival of Karva chauth is incomplete. These gift items are very traditional and are supposed to bring good luck in the lives of the married couple.
It is Mother-in-laws who gift ‘sargi’ for their daughter-in-laws. This ‘sargi’ is a collection of sumptuous food consists of various types of sweetmeats and sometime clothes. ‘Sargi’ is given to the married woman so that she can eat them before sunrise, as the fast starts before sunrise and ends only after worshiping the moon at night.
Traditionally, it is the mother who usually sends baya, which includes sweets, money, clothes and a karva (small earthen pitcher), to their married daughters houses. In the evening, the mother-in-law or any elderly women of the house accepts the baya, given to them by the younger married women of the family. Thus, the festival of karva chauth involves not only the married women, but other members of the household as well.