Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth or Karva Chauth Vrata

What is Karva Chauth

Karva is a special spherical pot made out of clay. Chauthi is the fouth day of Krishna Chaturthi of Kartik. Women worship Karwa (the special clay pot) on Chaturthi. Therefore, this festival is called Karva Chauth.

Karva Chauth is the festival ensuring happy married life and wishing long life for her husband and children. A married woman observes fasting though the day and eat only at the evening after worshiping moon and receiving blessings from her husband and elders.celebrated by the Hindu married women. Woman celebrates Karwa Chauth for praying for 

When is Karwa Chauth Vrata Puja

Karva Chauth is celebrated on Krishna Chaturthi of Kartik.  This year Karwa Chauth is on November 3, 2012. It is on Kartik 18, 2068 as per Bikram Sambat calendar. Some women observe other festivals for wellbeing of her husband with same significance and importance. Few of them are Savitri Vrat, Teej and Rishi- Panchami. 
How do we celebrate Karva Chauth vrata / How to perform Karwa Chauth puja

Women apply mehendi (henna) on their hands and worship moon. Women wear traditional dress according to their region and caste. Women wear heavy saris or chunries in red, pink or other bright and bridal colors, and adorn themselves with all other symbols of a married woman such as Nathhi, Tika, Bindi, Chudi (bangles), earrings etc. 

Women in this day with all dressed up is called Saubhagya. Saubhagya literally means “Hundred Fortune”. There are traditions singing playing music and dancing in through the day.  Some songs are sung at the night while offering water (Ark) to the moon. 

In Karva Chauth married woman keeps a fasting for the well-being and long life of her husband. The celebration and tradition of Karva Chauth varies from region to region depending on the culture and traditions of that place.

Karva Chauth is observed on the fourth day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin which is also called Kartik Chaturthi under Hindu lunar calendar. 

Women worship Karuva (Karwa), spherical clay pots with symbols for married women and sweets. They are later exchanged with other married women. Women observe fasting all day long, and then worship the karva. There is a tradition of elderly woman of the family narrates the legend of Karva Chauth (Vrata Katha). As soon as the moon is sighted, prayers are offered to the moon. The fasting woman first observes the moon through a sieve on her hand or on the water in the thali and then breaks her fast. The first sip of water after her fast and the first bite of food are offered by the husband. Later on big dinner is served as a part of the celebration. Women make or buy different types of sweets and food items on that day for the evening feast.  

Generally married women eat food early in the morning, before sunrise. They are not supposed to eat or even drink water during the day. In the evening the ladies listen to the Karwa Chauth Katha (the legend). The fast is over after the moonrise. They pray for the safety, prosperity and long life of their husbands. This marks the end of the day long fast.

The Puja Process
Puja preparations start a day in advance. Married women buy the Shringar or the traditional adornments and the other puja items like the Karva, matthi, heena etc. 

Generally the food preparation start from the late night the day before the Karva Brata so that early in the morning have it, before sunrise. The morning passes by in other festive activities like decorating hand and feet with heena, decorating the pooja thali and meeting friends and relatives. 

In the afternoon women gather at a place, generally in a temple or garden or someone’s' house for the puja.  Elderly lady tells or narrates the story of Karwa Chouth (Karva Chauth Vrata Katha). 

The puja requires a special mud pot called karva, considered a symbol of lord Ganesha. A metal vase filled with water, flowers, and idols of Ambika Gauri Mata, Goddess Parwati and some fruits, mathi and food grains are also essential items for the pooja.  Women keep sindoor, rice and Janau (Poonal), piece of supari (Areca nut) in the thali. A part of these items are offered to the deities and the storyteller. The idol of gauri mata are generally made out of mud and cow dong. Women light their own diya batti (light) during the pooja.

Thali decoration and Karva puja

Thali decoration in Karva Chauth is very important for performing the Karva Chauth pooja. A pooja thali, also known as Baya, containing the roli, vermilion, sacred water, dry fruits like almonds, pishta etc., earthen clay pots (karwa), diyas and different types of sweets, in their respective bowls (katoris), is nicely decorated. The art of creating attractive thalis for puja may also contain the ceremonial decoration like rangoli and alpana. Puja thali may also be decorated with flowers, leaves, color and also with pulses and grains.

Gauri Mata or Goddess Parvati is worshiped in this day. Married women sit around Gauri mata and pray her for well-being, firm relation and long life of their husbands. A small jug or Karva with some water is placed in the center. While the story is being narrated, ladies circulate their decorated Baya thalis. After the puja, this thali is given to the eldest member of the family who blesses the woman with all the happiness in life.
What are the stories behind Karwa Chauth

This day fasting women listen to Karva Chauth legends from their female elder in-laws with rapt attention. Following are the Karva chauth kathas.

Story of Queen Veeravati

In an ancient time, there was a beautiful girl named Veeravati. She was only sister of her seven loving brothers.  Veera was married to a king. On her first Karva Chauth after marriage, she went to her parents' house.  She observed a strict fast all the day. Later at the day Veeravati couldn't stand the rigors of fasting and was desperately waiting for the moon to rise for eating something. The brothers, who loved her very much, were very disturbed watching the distress of their sister and decided to end her fast by deceiving her. Then the brothers reflected a mirror through Peeple (Banyan Tree, Vat) tree leaves. The sister took it as moon rise and broke her fasting. The very moment the queen Veera ate her food, she received a message that her husband was seriously ill.

The queen Veera rushed back to her palace.  Rushing back on the way, she met Lord Shiva and his wife, Goddess Parvati. Parvati informed her that the king died because the queen had broken her fast by watching a false moon. The queen requested and asked her for forgiveness, the goddess granted her the boon that the king would be revived, if queen undertake the Karva Chauth Vrata under strict rituals. Thus, by strictly following all the rituals of Karva chauth, queen Veeravati regained her husband’s life.

Story from Mahabharata

Belief in this vrata (fasting) and its associated rituals can be traced back to the Mahabharata (the world’s biggest epic) times. Draupadi, wife of Pandavas, also observed this fasting. When Arjun went to the Nilgiris for penance and the rest of the Pandavas were facing problems in his absence. Draupadi,  in desperation, remembered Lord Krishna and asked for help. Lord Krishna appeared and reminded her that “On an earlier occasion, when Goddess Parvati sought Lord Shiva’s guidance under similar circumstances, she had been advised to observe the fast of Karva Chauth.”  As per lord Krishna’s instruction Draupadi observed the fast with all its rituals. Consequently, the Pandavas were able to overcome their problems. 

The Story of Satyavan and Savitri 

King Ashtapati had a beautiful and intelligent daughter named Savitri. The King gave her the permission to choose her husband. One day, Savitri met a young man in the forest who was carrying his blind parents in two baskets balanced on either side of a stick. The young man was Satyavan. Impressed by Satyavan’s devotion towards his blind parents, Savitri decided to marry him. On enquiry, the King found out from Sage Narada that Satyavan was the son of a deposed king and that he was destined to die in a year.King first refused to give permission for the marriage but Savitri was adamant. Finally, the King relented and the marriage was conducted and the couple left for the forest.They led a happy life and soon a year passed. Savitri realized that the date Sage Narad had predicted that Satyavan would die will fall in three days-time.

Three days before the predicted day of death of Satyavan, Savitri started fasting. 

The day Satyavan was destined to die, Savitri followed him to the forest. While cutting woods from a Vat Vriksha (Banyan Tree), he fell down and fainted. Soon, Savitri realized that Satyavan is dying. Suddenly she felt the presence of Yama, the god of death. She saw him carrying the soul of Satyavan and she followed Yama.

Yama first ignored Savitri thinking that she will soon return back to her husband’s body. But she persisted and kept on following him. Yama tried few tricks to persuade her but nothing worked. At last Yama had to return the life of her husband due to her devotion and love to her husband. Read full story in Savitri Vrata. 

Story of Karva

A woman, Karva, was deeply devoted to and madly in love with her husband. A crocodile caught him while taking bath one day. Karva came running and bonded the crocodile with a cotton yarn. She went to Yamaraj (the lord of death), and requested him to send the offending crocodile to hell. When Yama refused, she threatened to curse him. Afraid of the power of a devoted wife, Yama readily accepted and sent the crocodile to Yamalok or hell, and blessed Karva's husband with long life.

All these stories tell about the power of love, devotion and affection. These stories remind us that love and honesty towards partners can even bring one’s life back from death. This festival is observed by great enthusm and zeal by Hindu Woman all across the world. Women celebrates this festival with different names and at different times, but the significance is the same.