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The festival of Karwa Chauth is one of the biggest one in northern India and this year it falls on October 19. It is celebrated by married women but many girls of marriageable age also take part in the celebration at their own will. Karwa Chauth usually falls in October or November as it is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartik on the fourth day of Krishna Paksh or dark fortnight. Married women observe a fast for their husbands longevity while unmarried girls fast to get a good match or get married soon. Even though fasting is quite common during festivals, Karwa Chauth is a rigorous fast as it is observed from sunrise to moonrise without even the consumption of water. Even so, almost all married women from states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan observe this fast for their husband. Also Read - Coronavirus in Delhi: Delhi Police ASI Dies of COVID-19, Second Casualty in Force
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Women wake up before dawn and eat sargi which is given by their mother-in-law. They also dress up by wearing something festive, applying mehendi and make-up. They refrain from doing household chores on Karwa Chauth and in the evening attend a puja with other married women. An old married woman reads out stories related to Karwa Chauth and then women exchange their puja thalis by passing them around in circles. These have things like bangles, sindoor, mehendi and other items that are considered important for a married woman. After the puja, women usually have a glass of juice or something to eat that is considered acceptable during fasts. They then patiently wait for the moon to show up. In the night, the wife performs a small ritual by looking at the moon and then its reflection in the water which is in the pot or karwa. Then, they look at it through a sieve or chhalni and then look at their husbands face. The husband offers the wife water from the same pot and then feeds her something sweet which is when the fast is broken. Husbands also gift their wife something, thanking them for their effort. They then eat a proper meal.
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History of Karwa Chauth
There are several stories related to Karwa Chuath and how the festival came into being. While some are from mythology, some are also related to circumstances due to which it started. We list a few such stories related to the festival.
According to one of the stories, Karwa Chauth is primarily celebrated in the north-western region and not so much in other parts of India because it was observed the women whose husbands were in the military, protecting our borders. Women would dress up in their best attire and get together with other couples to spend some romantic time with their husband before they go off to war. Women whose husbands had already left for war would also join in the fast to pray for their safety. The next day, men would leave for war leaving behind their wife and kids. This is how the tradition started. It is also important to note that the fast falls around the same time as wheat-sowing time. The women would store wheat in large earthen pots and the fast would also be for a year of good harvest.
One of the most popular stories associated with Karwa Chauth and is often read out during the puja ceremony in the evening is about Savitri. It is believed that when Savitris husband Satyavan passed away, she was determinant to bring him back to life. She begged Yama, the god of death, to grant his life back but when that did not work, she stopped eating and drinking. Yama asked Savitri to ask him for any other boon other than granting her husbands life back. Savitri agreed and then asked Yama to bless her with children. Yama granted her this wish but Savitri protested that she cannot have children with any other man other than her husband. Thus, Yama reluctantly had to bring Satyavan back to life. This is the reason why women fast for their husband with the faith that by doing so, they are extending the life of their husband. And they do so just like Savitri did it by giving up eating as well as drinking water throughout the day. The reason why the fast is broken after the moon comes out is because they pray that just like the moon, their suhaag or husbands life shine bright.
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It is believed that once a married woman begins observing the Karwa Chauth fast, she should continue to do so for as long as her husband is alive. Some women who have health issues or are elderly, observe it like a regular fast where they drink water or juice and consume fruits during the day. However, newly-wedded women are expected to observe the fast by giving up food and water the entire day.
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