The great Indian festival of Karva Chauth is merely a week away as it is to be celebrated this year on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. This popular fasting ritual of Karva Chauth is practiced widely in Jaipur as well as in several other parts of India. All married ladies must be busy shopping for this festival, which warms up the festive time leading to Diwali.
Most married women fast for the entire day for the safety and long lives of their husbands. Meanwhile, they pamper themselves, apply mehandi, dress up beautifully and wait for the moon to rise. Even kids spend their evenings on the roof to look for moon to come so that their mothers could break the fasts. Husbands leave offices in time to ensure their wives don’t have to wait any longer. These days, even husbands are performing fasts for their wives.
Altogether Karva Chauth, like all other festivals brings the family closer and lets them spend time together, caring for each other and enjoying the festivities. While most married women in Jaipur know about the rituals to be performed during Karva Chauth, not many know about the legend of Karva Chauth. Why is the festival celebrated? What’s the story behind it?
Read ahead to know the stories behind the observance of Karva Chauth fast before you celebrate the festival this year on October 19.
The name Karva Chauth comes from two words, ‘Karwa’ meaning earthen clay pot and ‘Chauth’ meaning four. The day falls on the fourth day of Kartik month of the Hindu calendar, which comes right nine days before Diwali. It is said that initially Karwa Chauth was followed as a ritual celebrating the relationship between bride and the women in her in-laws house. But gradually the festival shifted towards fasting for all day to seek blessings of long life of husband.
Some legendary tales known about the special Indian festival of Karva Chauth goes as follows:
Mostly the celebration of Karwa Chauth takes place only in the north and north western parts of India. This time of the year was the one when folks departed for long journeys for military assignment. So it is believed that the women in this part of India started observing fast for the safety, well-being and long life of their husbands, who used to set on long distance journeys from their homes.
The festival of Karva Chauth falls during the onset of the Rabi crop season, the period when wheat is sown. During ancient times, wheat was stored in huge earthen clay pots known as ‘Karva’. So, another tale goes like, they must have started fasting to seek blessings of the divine so as to reap a good harvest.
Very long time ago, Queen Veeravati, who was the only sister of seven loving brothers, had come to live at her parents’ house on the occasion of the first Karva Chauth after her marriage. She observed a strict fast as per the custom since sunrise but being the queen she couldn’t withstand the consequences of fasting and was desperately waiting for the moon to rise.
Seeing her in distress, her seven brothers, who loved her very dearly, decided to deceive her and make her break her fast. They reflected a mirror through pipal tree leaves, which queen Veeravati mistook as a moon and broke her fast. However, as soon as she did so, she received the news that her husband was severely ill.
She rushed to see the king but met Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on way, who told her that her husband was no more as she had broken her fast without watching the real moon. She asked for forgiveness. The Goddess blessed her with a boon that the king would come back to life if she observes the Karva Chauth fast following all rituals.
Queen Veeravati successfully undertook the fast and thus her husband, the king could be revived.
This special fast is said to have been observed by Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, as well. Once Arjun left for the Nilgiris for penance and the rest of the Pandavas faced several problems. Draupadi asked Lord Krishna for help, who told her that in similar circumstances, Lord Shiva had advised Goddess Parvati to observe the fast of Karva Chauth.
Draupadi followed the advice of Lord Krishna and kept the Karva Chauth fast with all rituals. Following this the Pandavas were able to overcome the problems they were facing.
When Lord Yama came to take away the soul of Satyavan, Savitri begged him to grant him life. But Yama refused to do so. So, Savitri stopped eating and drinking because of which Yama was forced to relent and grant her husband’s life. Since then the ritual of Karva Chauth came into being.
Another legend goes, a woman named Karva deeply loved her husband. One day while bathing, the husband was caught by a crocodile. Karva came running to save her husband and bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn. She then asked Yama, the Lord of Death, to send the crocodile to hell. She threatened to curse him if he denied. Afraid of the power of a curse of a devoted wife, Lord Yama accepted her request to send the crocodile to hell. He also blessed her husband with long life.
Whatever the history or the legends may say, Karva Chauth today is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Jaipur and other north Indian states. It is considered an auspicious day for couples and is said to strengthen the ties of love between husband-wife.
So, Jaipurites – don’t forget to leave offices in time and celebrate the festival this October 19 with your loving husbands/wives!