Karwa Chauth – an Indian festival that brings a lot of excitement and traditional rituals together and is a manifestation of love and devotion of an Indian wife for her spouse. On this auspicious day, Hindu married women keep fast since morning for the well being of their husbands and break it only when the moon becomes visible. Single women can also keep this fast to get a good partner for life.
Karwa Chauth is mostly celebrated in Northern & Western India, though nowadays the tradition is seen to be observed in other parts of India too. Women start to plan for the Karwa Chauth month a few days prior so that they do not miss out on anything.
Going on a Shopping spree
Every woman love to shop and Karwa Chauth being ‘her’ day, shopping for this day starts well in advance. From buying bangles, sindoor, beauty products, jewellery to karwa lamps (women does puja with this), matthi, Puja samagri (stuff), fenia and obviously beautiful dresses to look stunning on this auspicious occasion – the list just goes endless. I remember when I was little, I especially waited for the evening to see my mom and aunts in the neighborhood get ready for the evening.
The Mehendi Ritual
Applying Mehendi on both the palms is considered to be very pious for any festival celebrated in India. During Karwa Chauth too, Indian married women while decking up as a new bride (nayi naveli dulhan) applies Mehendi a day prior and regarded as an extremely significant ritual. Women adorn their hands and feet with unique mehendi designs one day prior to Karwa Chauth. In fact the demand for mehendi goes up so high that if you happen to visit a mehendiwala on the previous day of Karwa Chauth, you would surely have to wait and pay up some extra money. There are regular sights of women waiting in queue the whole night in beauty salons and markets for applying mehendi.
Karwa Chauth di Sargi
Sargi is a Punjabi name of the tasty vermicelli kheer (pudding) eaten early morning and is prominent in Punjab. It is a pre dawn meal that includes fenia (a sweet made by using milk and semolina).
It is a ritual especially in Punjab for the sargi to be given to the married woman by her mother-in-law. If the mother-in-law stays with the woman, the pre-dawn meal is arranged by her, but in most cases if she is away, the mother-in-law ensures to send it to her before the festival.
Karwa Chauth Puja
On the Karwa Chauth evening, married women get dressed in their finest outfits and jewellery, while newly married brides would get decked up in their bridal dress to perform the Pooja. The Karwa Chauth Pooja story teller is usually the wife of the Pandit (Priest) or any older women. She narrates the Karwa Chauth story (the story of Veervati) and pauses in between to sing the Karwa Chauth puja song. Ladies sit in a circle and perform seven ‘feris’ of the Pooja thali (passing their thali around in the circle). In their thalis (also known as Baya), there would be food stuff like meethi mathri, dry fruits, mathri, fruits, manasna and later this is handed over to their mother in law or sister in law. After concluding the fera ritual, the women awaits the moon to rise. When the moon becomes visible, it is tradition for a fasting woman, with her husband nearby, to sight its reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve. Water is presented (arka) to the moon. She then turns to her husband and views his face indirectly in the same manner. The husband now takes the water from the thali and gives his wife her first sip and feeds her with the first bit of the day (generally sweet). The fast is now broken, and the woman can now have whole food.
– Anjali Sethi Joshi / Samrita Baruah