India is full of festivals and rituals. In northern India, Karwa Chauth is one of the most popular occasions among the married women. This day holds special significance as all the married women observe this day for the prosperity of their husbands. Generally, on Karwa Chauth married women keep fasts for the whole day and offer prayers for the long life and immense prosperity of their husbands. It is only after the moonrise that is in the evening after having a look at the moon, women break their fasts. Karwa Chauth festival is defined as a sacred festival. On this day, people socialize by sharing homemade foods and by exchanging gifts.
It is said that Karwa Chauth is one of the most awaited occasions of northern parts of India. However, it is also a true fact that this festival is celebrated in almost all the regions of the country. The traditions and rituals of Karwa Chauth are really significant and are maintained by the people very religiously. This festival reflects happiness, joy, brightness and splendor of a married life. The popular traditions of Karwa Chauth comprise all such things that signify the marital status of a woman. Just before the festival of Karwa Chauth, the demand of bindi, lehnga-choli, bangles, jewelry and henna increases a lot. This festival binds people together.
The popular legend associated with Karwa Chauth says that there is actually a very sweet noble idea behind the origin of this festival. In earlier days, girls used to get married at a very young age and in their married life, if the girl faced any problem either with her husband or with her in-laws, then she would have no-one to share her feelings. That is why, the custom to befriend another woman developed. The friendship would be sanctified by a Hindu ceremony. It means that they would remain friends all their lives and would treat each other as real sisters. Thus, the celebration of Karwa Chauth started to celebrate the relationship of friendship. And todayís popular concept of fasting and praying for the well-being of the husbands came into existence much later.
People start preparing for this propitious occasion beforehand well in advance. The festival of Karwa Chauth is usually celebrated nine days before the Diwali celebrations. The date of Karwa Chauth falls in the month of Kartik as per the traditional Hindu calendar that is in between the months of October and November. The married woman dresses up in either red or maroon color traditional clothes, wear loads of jewelries, keep fasts and worship Goddess Gauri. Married women very dedicatedly and religiously observe this day for the longevity and prosperity of their husbands. During this festive time married woman shop for colorful accessories and other traditional attires. It is generally in the evening time; married women (of a family or locality) gather at one place and conduct the Karwa Chauth puja in some temple. During the day time, women either chat or do some interesting activities to pass their time. Henna or Ďmehndií is another most important part of the Karwa Chauth celebrations, so on this day married women put henna on their hands. It is commonly believed that darker the color of the henna on your hands, the more will be the love and care you will get from your husband. These are some of the popular Karwa Chauth customs.
It is said that long time back, there was a very beautiful princess whose name was Veeravati. At an optimum marriageable age, she was married to a king. After her marriage, on the first Karwa Chauth, Queen Veeravati went to meet her parents. After the sunrise, the queen observed a very strict fast. As because she was very dedicated about the Karwa Chauth fast so, she didnít drink even a drop of water.
Veeravati fainted in the evening after her rigorous fasting for the whole long day. The loving brothers of the queen became desperate and that is why they decided to do anything in order to break her fast. At a nearby hilly area, they made a fire and asked to have a glimpse and they made her believe that the glow of the light was that of a moon and after having a look at it she can very easily break her fast.
So, Veeravati broke the fast after watching at the false moon and ate dinner. But, the moment she ate the dinner she received the bad news about her husbandís death. The queen was totally heartbroken and she rushed to her palace to see her husband. When she was on her way back, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati paid her a visit. Goddess Parvati told her that as because she had broken her fast by looking at the false moon that is why her husband had died. After hearing this, the queen asked for the mercy of Goddess Parvati and she granted her the boon. She said that her husband would be brought back to life but the king would be seriously ill. So, when the queen reached the palace, she found that the king is lying unconscious and there were numerous needles into his body.
The queen was able to remove one pin from the kingís body every day. She succeeded in removing all the pins except one pin. So, by next yearís Karwa Chauth the king was unconscious.The queen again observed a very strict fast. She went to the market to buy the pitcher required for the puja. So, when Veeravati was away, her maid removed the last pin from her husbandís body. At that very moment, the king regained consciousness and mistook the maid as her wife. So, when the actual queen arrived at the palace, she was made to serve like a maid. But, still the queen was dedicated and she continued her fast.
One day, when the king was going to the market, he asked Veeravati whether she wanted anything. She said that she want two identical dolls. After she got the pair of dolls, she started singing one song that symbolized that entire story. When the king asked her why she was singing this song repeatedly, the queen narrated the whole story. The king felt regretted and restored her royal status. Her tremendous faith and belief in the Almighty and her true love for her husband earned her the blessings of Goddess Parvati. The tradition of keeping a fast and offering prayers continues till today and is observed by a married woman very devotedly.