Karwa Chauth is one of the most auspicious fast practiced by married Hindu women around the globe. This day, married women pray for the long life and welfare of their husbands. The ritual of the fast begins before sunrise, and women are not supposed to eat until moonrise. Throughout the day, women observing the fast are not supposed to eat anything, or even drink water the entire day. In the evening, these ladies listen to the Karwa Chauth legend, and break the fast at the first sight of the Moon.
Legend has it…
The festival of Karwa Chauth has many legends associated with it, all of them interlinked as a story frame for the other. Here are some of them:
Legend of Karwa
Once there was woman named Karwa, who was deeply devoted to her husband. Her intense affection for her husband was the source of her spiritual power. While bathing at a river one day, her husband was caught by a crocodile. Karwa bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn and asked Yama, the God of death to send the crocodile to hell, but he refused. So Karwa threatened Yama to curse him and destroy him if he did not send the crocodile to hell. Afraid of being cursed, Yama sent the crocodile to hell and blessed Karwa’s husband with long life. To this day, KarwaChauth is celebrated with great faith and enthusiasm.
Legend of Queen Veeravati
Only sister of seven brothers, Queen Veeravati was visiting her parents’ house to celebrate her first Karwa Chauth. She followed the ritual of observing the fast and was waiting keenly for the moon to arrive. At one point, while she was still waiting for the moon to appear, she developed a strong desire to drink water. Seeing her anguish, her brothers placed a mirror in a peepal tree that made it look like a moon. Mistaking it for the moon, Queen Veeravati broke her fast. Soon following this event, she received a message that her husband had died. Inconsolable, she rushed back to her husband’s house. Along the way, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati appeared before her and told her that she had been deceived by her brothers to break the fast before the moonrise. Hearing this, the Queen pleaded forgiveness and requested that her husband be brought back to life. Shiva and Parvati assured her that when she observes strict fast ritual, he would be brought back to life. This time around, the Queen followed the ritual strictly, and was able to bring her husband back to life.
Legend of Satyavan and Savitri
According to this legend, Lord Yama, God of death came to Savitri’s house looking for Satyavan’s soul, her husband. Savitri pleaded Yama for her husband’s life, but he begged off her plea. Following this, Savitri ceased to eat, or even drink water. Seeing this, Yama pledged to grant Savitri any other wish she desired. So Savitri asked that she be blessed with children. Since Savitri was devoted to her husband, she refused to let any other man be the father of her children. Seeing this, Yama had no other option but to bring her husband back to life.
Legend from Mahabharata
According to Mahabharata, when Arjuna left for Nilgiris, Pandava brothers faced a lot of trouble in his absence. Witnessing the troubles, Draupadi sought Lord Krishna’s help. He advised her to observe the Karwa Chauth vrat citing the tales of Shiva and Parvati. Draupadi followed Krishna’s instructions, and Pandavas were finally able to rid themselves of the problems
Women start preparing for Karwa Chauth days in advance. Local bazars put on a festive attire with Karwa Chauth related merchandises on display, and women engross themselves in buying them.
On the day of Karwa Chauth, fast begins with dawn, and women observing the fast do not eat or drink the entire day. Applying henna is also a tradition that is widely followed. During day time, people receive their relatives, and exchange clay pots filled with bangles, ribbons, home-made candies, cosmetics and cloth items.
Since Karwa Chauth follows the Kharif crop harvest, it calls for a good time for community festivities and exchanging gifts. Parents often send gifts to their married daughters’ homes.
This puja is focused to seek blessings of Goddess Parvati. Women draw goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata on the wall, or use their pictures printed on the Karwa Chauth calendar. Goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata are representations of Goddess Parvati.
The following mantra should be chanted during the puja:
DadamiRatansanyunktChirtrajivitu Me Patiha
Then women wait for the moon to rise and worship it.