Karwa Chauth | A Celebration of Eternal Bonding
Karwa Chauth is a ritual of fasting, followed by married Hindu women without drinking even a drop of water throughout the day. This eternal festival is celebrated for the long life, happiness and prosperity of their husbands. Karwa Chauth comes 9 days before Diwali and immediately after Dussehra in the month of October-November. It is hugely popular in the northern and western states of India like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
Origin and History
It is said to have originated at the time of Mughal invasion when soldiers had to go away to fight against the Mughal invaders. The wives of these fearless soldiers used to fast for an entire day without food and water to pray for their husband’s safety in the battle-field.
Additionally, there is another intriguing story behind the origin of this festival. In ancient times, at a very early age girls used to get married and had to live with their in-laws in other villages. There, she had no one to talk to or share her feelings. Thus, she used to befriend another woman who was regarded as a friend or sister for lifetime. They were known as ‘god-sisters’ or dharam-behen. This is when these girls started to celebrate Karwa Chauth signifying the bond between the god-sisters.
Customs and Rituals across different states of India
The festival of Karwa Chauth has an extraordinary significance among married women across India. However, the way of celebrating Karwa Chauth varies from one state to other. Let’s have a look on some of the major states and their unique way of celebrating this festival.
Karwa Chauth is one of the main festivals for married women in Punjab. On this auspicious occasion, all the markets in Punjab get flooded with various accessories and decorative items including bangles, beautiful sarees, embroidered suits and stalls of sweets. Apart from following the ritual of fasting, women adorn their hands with exquisite mehndi (Hina), especially designed by skilled artists. In some parts of Punjab, even unmarried women fasts in the hope of winning a loving husband.
- Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh, married women decorate the walls of their home with drawings of Gauri Ma, the Moon and the sun. They also make the karwa with mud and perform the evening pooja with earthen lamps. Before looking at the moon, the women pray to the idols at their doorstep.
On this festival, the women in Rajasthan make the karwas (earthern pots) with mud and fill them with rice and wheat. As a part of the celebration, they especially embellish themselves in their bridal wear. Interestingly, it is believed here that the woman who fast is not only blessed with well-being of her husband but also wins the same husband for the next seven births.
Sargi is a meal prepared by the mother-in-law for her daughter-in-law, to be consumed before the dawn of Karwa Chauth. This meal includes sweets and other delicious eatables. The mother-in-law blesses her to remain happy always and gifts her with traditional jewelry and sarees.
On Karwa Chauth, the mother-in-law receives gifts from her daughter-in-law’s mother, which is known as Baya. This consists of salted mathris, dry fruits, sarees and utensils.
- The Pooja
From the afternoon itself, the women start their preparation for pooja with utmost devotion and zeal. Married ladies embellish themselves with heavy bridal dress, ornaments and cosmetics. After taking blessings from all the elder women in the family, she presents the baya to her mother-in-law.
- A glimpse of the moon
Soon after the pooja, the story of Karwa Chauth is narrated by elderly women of the family. The wait for the moon rise begins after sunset and as soon as the moon is sighted, prayers are offered to the moon. Women first observe the moon through a sieve and then break their fast. The first sip of water and the first bite of food are offered by the husband.
The other festivals surrounding Karwa Chauth
October is considered an important month in Hindu calendar. With the beginning of this month, the season of festivities begin. Navratri falls during this month, which is soon followed by Karwa Chauth and ends with Diwali. The most common aspect about all these festivals is that all of them represent the vivid culture of India with an essence of women-hood.
Karwa Chauth – The Evolution
The festival of Karwa Chauth has evolved immensely over the centuries. In earlier times, this festival was limited to some states, but gradually it became an important occasion of almost all the states of India. Apart from keeping fasts, women now shop for ethnic clothes and elegant jewellery and like to dress themselves in the most exquisite way. With the change in time even traditional delicacies are now replaced by modern sweets and chocolates. Additionally, Karwa Chauth is no more a one sided affair, now husbands also participate to express their love for their beloved wives.
Karwa Chauth and Bollywood
With the intervention of Bollywood, the age old tradition of Karwa Chauth has now become a more glamorized and keenly celebrated occasion. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular Bollywood movies, which featured this festival with utmost beauty.
- Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
The movies of Karan Johar are known for their perfection in celebrating traditional festivals. The Karwa Chauth scene from this super hit movie is known for the most iconic sequence of this festival. The ‘Bole Chudiya’ song had everything including mehendi, Karwa Chauth celebration with good dance steps to make us all watch it and enjoy.
- Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
This movie is an all time favourite and so is the Karwa Chauth scene in it. Who can forget the ‘Nakhre wali’ Simran played by Kajol who fasts while Raj played by Shah Rukh does the same but secretly. With the flick of the folk song ‘Ghar aaja pardesi’ in the background, this movie made girls all over the country fall in love with the very idea of fasting for love.
The most romantic couple of that year, Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini were unforgettable in this movie. The Karwa Chauth scene was so emotional that almost no one left the movie hall without tears in their eyes.
Fashion at Karwa Chauth
- What to wear?
With a whole day of fasting, it may get a little burdensome and tiring to manage heavy outfits. Women nowadays prefer embellished straight cut suits or anarkalis, with some detailing on the neckline and a heavy border instead.
If you are wearing a heavy outfit, go delicate with jewellery. Wear either statement earrings or a neckpiece with loads of matching bangles to complete the look. Even kundan jewellery and bangles are a good choice to mix and match with your outfit.
- Make-up & Hair
The makeup and hair will entirely depend on the color of your outfit. Opt for a simple yet classy look with bright glossy lips as a contrast. Do not go for darker tones, try to stay on the warmer sides of red, or darker sides of orange to balance your bridal look. When it comes to tying up your hair, a simple puffed bun is just the thing that will make you look elegant.