The Women’s Festival: Karwa Chauth 2020
India is a land as diverse as the seven colors in a rainbow. It has myriads of cultures, races, creeds, festivals, etc. residing and existing in a single space of Karwa Chauth in 2020 fall on November 4th.
Sometimes it becomes difficult to remember the names and histories of all the festivals but that’s what makes us unique: the fact that we have infinite festivals and traditions.
One such festival which is highly celebrated and is mostly women-oriented is Karwa Chauth. We all must have seen pictures of newlyweds and other Women dressed in red, orange, and pink or bright colors.
With a sieve in one hand and a plate full of eatables, water pot, and their husband in front of them, in movies and serials.
This is the most simple way to understand this ritual. Yet there’s more to this not-so-simple festival. Have a look below!
History and Importance
Karwa Chauth is a one-day festival mostly celebrated among Hindus, though other religions’ people like Sikhs also celebrate it. Karva means pot and Chauth means fourth. This is the term breakage of the whole word.
There are many stories regarding the origin of this festival, the most famous being that of Queen Veervati. According to legend, Queen Veervati was very beautiful. Once she kept a very long fast in which she neither drank nor ate anything.
She had 7 brothers who were quite grieved to see her state. Thus, they devised a plan of placing a mirror, the reflection of which seemed like a moon, to help her break the fast. Just after that, her husband died.
Later, a goddess told her that she was cheated by her brothers. Thus, she kept an indefinite fast and prayed for her husband, after which Lord Yama revived him.
The story is also there in the epic Mahabharata where Draupadi once kept a fast for Arjun whom she loved the most. Arjun had gone to Nilgiri hills and hadn’t returned and Pandavas were facing problems.
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So, she asked Krishna to help her out of this situation. Krishna then narrated the story of Goddess Parvati who performed similar rituals. Draupadi kept Karwa Chauth and then the Pandavas got out of their problems.
Other stories suggest that men who earlier went for military services had their wives left alone at home, who prayed for their return.
It is also a fast associated with a good harvest since it happens around the wheat sowing season. And lastly, the fast celebrates feminine friendship given that in earlier times women friends who were married at the same place would get a way to come together and meet each other.
Date of Celebration
The festival is celebrated 4 days after the Poornima( full moon) in the month of Kartika. There is no fixed date to celebrate it, with the date varying here and there.
In 2019, Karwa Chauth was celebrated on 17th October, and in 2020, it is going to arrive on 4th November. The date is mostly decided according to the solar positions and thus keeps changing.
The festival is marked by women starting to prepare for it days before the actual date. They buy new clothes, apply henna on their hands, purchase cosmetics and buy karvas – pots in which wheat is stored and decorate them.
The bazaars also become hubs of Mehendi appliers and cosmetic sellers and there seems full fun and frolic around, with markets taking a festive look like a newlywed.
On the day of fast, which is “Nirjala fast” – (without water fast), they get up early in the morning and take a bath.
After that, they eat Sargi- the food prepared by the mother in law which includes vermicelli, dry fruits, fruits, savory dishes, parantha, and sweet dishes.
This food helps them survive the whole day. They wear suits and sarees of usually red color, with the application of vermilion ( sindoor) in their forehead hairline, denoting that they are married. Women also put a lot of gold jewelry.
Apart from this, the puja Thalis which women decorate themselves are quite famous in which they place sindhoor, incense sticks, rice, banana, etc.
And by the afternoon, they get ready to perform the Katha ceremony, in which the women near the neighborhood gather at someone’s house with an old woman narrating a story.
The story is mostly about queen Veervati. The Katha is also about women not willing to leave their husbands. There are probably 7 rounds of storytelling and they exchange their Thalis(plates) in feris (rounds).
And when the night arrives, the women wait for the Moon to arrive. After seeing their husband’s face through a sieve, they break the fast with the husband feeding her with water and she touching his feet.
These days husbands gift their wives beautiful presents like rings, chains, purses, etc. And some men also do fasting for their wives.
In Punjab, the Sargi- ceremony is very important. In U.P, they eat soot feni with milk in sugar. Karva Chauth is known by the name of Atla Tadde.
The fast despite being an ancient practice is still followed today with mothers passing it on to their daughters. despite this, there is a lot of criticism around the practice with many journalists.
Having claimed it to be a very patriarchal and regressive practice, in which women have to fast without food or water for their husbands, while men don’t really care about it.
However, one cannot ignore the long history of this day and it’s mostly an individual choice to keep Karwa Chauth fast or not. Till then, wait for this day to come!
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