KARVA CHAUTH – A FESTIVAL FOR CONSOLIDATION OF LOVE BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIVES – HEARTIEST FELICITATION FOR THIS HOLY DAY
Karva means earthen pot (mainly a spherical earthen pot and paint the same with different colours so as to beautify it) and Chauth means fourth day – a festival which falls on the fourth day of fortnight or Krisha Paksh of the fourth day of Kartik (Full Moon – Poornima) according to Hindu Calendar. In some parts in India, wheat is kept in the Karva (pot) because it is wheat sowing season (Rabi crop cycle).
ORIGIN OF THE FESTIVAL
On this festival is observed in Northern Part of India. It is believed that the grown up menfolk used to go for military campaigns leaving their families at home. Their wives pray for their husbands for their return safely.
Stories abound about observance of fast. There was a queen names Veervati. While she was married was at her parents’ house. She observed fast. Due to strict observance of fast, she felt it very hard to be without water. Her seven brothers felt for the life of their sister and created an artificial moon. She took water due to which her husband died. She offered prayers to Lord Shiva and Parvati. With their grace, her husband’s life was restored. They appeared to her and advised her to observe fast very strictly.
Then there is also a legend connected with Arjuna and Draupti of Epic Mahabharta. While Arjuna had gone to the forests for his strict penance, Draupti observed strict fast due to which Arjuna’s task was achieved without much difficulty.
There was a woman named Karva. This woman was devoted to her husband. During bath, her husband was caught by crocodile. Karva bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn prayed the lord of death Yama to spare her husband and send the Yama to hell for his misdeed. She was so much so devoted to her husband that the Lord of Death had to agreed to her entreaties.
The story of Satyavan Savitri is well known. While she was married to a poor leper by his king father. When Lord Yama came to get Satyavan’s soul, Savitri requested him to spare his husband life. He refused doing so. She kept strict fast. While he was taking the soul of her husband, she followed him. Finally, Lord Yama asked her for a boon. She asked for nothing but the life of her husband.
The wheat is kept in the earthen pot which coincide with the prayer for good wheat crops.
OBSERVANCE OF STRICT FAST
The married women observe strict fast from the early morning hours, without taking anything including water. They take fenis (Made of wheat floor) along with some eatable water in the early morning (before sun rise) and subsequently observe fast for the complete day. The sargi is prepared by the mother-in-law. They pray for the safety of their husbands. They wait for till seeing the moon. They see their husband first before seeing the moon through a sieve. Then the husbands help their wives to take some water. The wives pray to the Moon God for the safety of their husbands and pray for their lives and also that they may shine like the Moon. My wife has been observing this festival for the last 40 years and I know how much love and affection we two along with my love ones are having while following all these rituals from morning till late evening. Beya or gift is also given to mother-in-law by the wife and both of them (husband and wife) pray for her long life.
FESTIVAL FOR CONSOLIDATION OF RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE
This festival symbolizes the consolidation of relationship between husband and wife and also with others in the family. Not only in the family, the married women consolidate their bond of friendship with other women in the neighbourhood by making the sahelis of friends with whom they exchange their beautification materials such as bangles, bindis, sandoor pot, ribbons etc. This shows the bond of friendship of feminine with with not only their husbands but also other members in the household including the neighborhood.
Now-a-days, even the fiances are observing fasts for their would-be-husbands for the safety and progress.
EXCHANGE OF MAKE-UP MATERIALS BETWEEN MARRIED WOMEN
The women in the evening hours collect in the courtyard and sing the praises of the deity for the safety and prosperity of their husbands. They also exchange gifts mainly the beautification materials or make-up materials(shringar) and other home- made sweets. All the women observing this fast put on their best dresses specially made for this festivals.
CONGREGATION TO RELATE THE OLD-TIMES STORIES CONCERNING THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS DAY
The married women sit in a circular form, exchange their thalis in which contain puja materials and make-up materials along with a earthen lighted wick etc are kept in that thali to be exchanged with the women in the group. The married women also exchange their views on the taboos which are strictly observed during this festival as this festival relates to the strict observance of fast lest something bad may happen to their husbands. They relate old-times stories concerning the importance of this festival in the form of songs.The stories highlighting this festival and also the stories of the unfortunate wives who could not observe the fast strictly. In other words, this festival signifies the importance of love of husbands and wives – a festival for fostering bond of love between spouses. The women folks pray for their safety and prosperity of their husbands. The songs in the praise of Lord Shiva-Parvati and Ganesh are sung with traditional fervor and devotion.
MY PRAYER FOR THE SAFETY, PROSPERITY OF BOTH HUSBANDS AND WIVES ALONG WITH THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS.