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What is Karwa Chauth (Meaning)?

Karwa Chauth (Wednesday, November 1, 2023) is a one-day festival when married women fast from sunrise to moonrise without water for the safety and longevity of their husband’s live and for everlasting prosperity in the family. North Indian states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab have the celebration with much fanfare and at a grand scale. The festival is celebrated on the fourth day after the full moon, in the Hindu luni-solar calendar month of Kartik (November-December).

During Karwa Chauth married women undertake strict fasting of Karwa Chauth and observe certain rituals. Women break their fast only after seeing and making the offerings to the Moon. The fasting of Karwa Chauth involves intake of no food or water after sunrise till the sighting of the Moon in the night. Lord Shiva and His family including Maa Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya are worshipped and revered. The festival of Karwa Chauth also coincides with Sankashti Chaturthi which another significant fasting is done to revere Lord Ganesha.

When is Karwa Chauth in 2023?

Karwa Chauth will be celebrated on Wednesday, November 1, 2023


Story and Significance of Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth Festival Celebration

The word ‘Karva’ or ‘Karwa’ means 'pot', an earthen pot for carrying water and ‘Chauth’ means 'fourth' in Hindi because it is observed on the fourth day of the dark-fortnight, or Krishna Paksha, of the month of Kartik (November-December). The festival of Karwa Chauth first started in the North and Western part of India. There are different stories and legends about the origins of the festival. As per legends once Gods were defeated by the Demons who asked Lord Brahma for help and protection. Lord Brahma stated that to defeat the demons the consorts of Gods will have to fast for the wellbeing of their husbands. All Goddesses fasted on the Chaturthi of Kartik month and Gods were able to defeat the demons and since then the festival of Karva Chauth is celebrated.

Another legend is that once in Mahabharata when Arjuna went away to do strict penance to please the Gods and be blessed with Divine weapons. Draupadi got worried and asked Lord Krishna what she can do to help her husband. Lord Krishna advised Draupadi to observe the Karva Chauth Vrat for wellbeing of Arjuna.

Also in North India soldiers would often leave their wives and children and their wives would often pray for their safe return and longer life. Interestingly, the festival also concurs with the beginning of Rabi crop cycle. Large earthen pots are used to store wheat grains. These pots are called as Karvas. Thus, it is believed that the fast may have started as a prayer for good harvest in the regions where wheat grains amply grew.

Another reason for celebration of Karva Chauth is that young girls feeling too much separation from the family due to marriage used to befriend another woman married into the same village. Their friendship was sanctified along with the marriage ceremony. The bride and her new friend would gradually become close friends. This would comfort the bride during her being with her new family. Both the bride and her friend would seek help from each other, thereby making their friendship stronger until they became like god-sisters. Karva Chauth started to celebrate this bond between the brides and their new friends and hence, here resides Karwa Chauth meaning.

Karwa Chauth Story

Karva Chauth Vrat katha

Once upon a time, Vedsharma, a Brahmin from the city of Indraprasthapur, lived a long time ago. Vedsharma was blissfully married to Leelavati, with whom he had seven wonderful boys and one talented daughter called Veeravati. She was spoiled not only by her parents but also by her siblings since she was the only sister of seven brothers.

She was married to a decent Brahmin guy when she matured. Veeravati observed Karwa Chauth fast for the long life of her husband with her sisters-in-laws after marriage, while she was with her parents. Veeravati couldn't stand the hunger during the Karwa Chauth fast. She collapsed and fell on the ground as a result of her weakness.

All of the brothers were unable to endure their beautiful sister's plight. They knew Veeravati, a Pativrata, would refuse to eat anything until she could see the moon, even if it meant risking her life. All of the brothers came up with a scheme to deceive the sister into breaking her fast. One of the brothers climbed Vat's far tree with a sieve and a light. When Veeravati regained consciousness, the rest of the brothers informed her that the moon had risen and took her up to the rooftop to see it.

Veeravati saw the light behind the sieve on a far Vat tree and assumed the moon had risen behind the tangle of trees. She quickly offered offerings to the light and broke the fast to satisfy her hunger.

When Veeravati began eating, she received a slew of terrible omens. She discovered the hair in the first mouthful, sneezed in the second bite, and received an invitation from her in-laws in the third bite. When she arrived at her husband's house for the first time, she discovered her husband's corpse.

When Veeravati saw her husband's lifeless corpse, she burst into tears and chastised herself for making a mistake during the Karwa Chauth fast. She began to weep uncontrollably. Goddess Indrani, the wife of God Indra, came to comfort Veeravati after hearing her lament.

Veeravati questioned Indrani about her destiny on Karwa Chauth and begged her to bring her husband back to life. When Goddess Indrani saw Veeravati's sorrow, she informed her that she broke the fast without making an Argha (sacrifice) to the moon, and as a result, her husband died prematurely. Indrani urged Veeravati to follow Chauth fasting on each month of the year, including Karwa Chauth, and promised her that her husband would return alive.

Veeravati then followed monthly fasting with full faith and all rites. Veeravati eventually regained custody of her husband as a result of the Punya accumulated through her fasting.

Karwa Chauth Traditional Rituals

Following are the traditional rituals for Karwa Chauth Katha on Karwa Chauth date and Karwa Chauth Vidhi. Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha is observed on this long-day.

Items needed for Karwa Chauth ritual (Karwa Chauth Samagri)

  • Karva Chauth Image / Photograph / Stickers from local markets.
  • Sindoor (Vermillion Powder), Dhoop Batti (1-2 units) Agar Batti (3-5 units) Matchbox (1 unit).
  • Paan Leaves / Betel Leaves - 1 (typically available in the market in sets of 5).
  • Decorated Karva (Mud pot with an outlet to the side) - 1 Karva if you plan to do the puja in a group, 2 Karvas if you are doing the puja alone, Red Chandan, Mouli / Janeu (Sacred Thread), Mitti Diya / Mud lamps - 2 to 3 units, Ghee/Oil (for use in the diya).
  • Rangoli, Powder - Colors and amounts as required Rangoli Making Instruments (if required), Kapoor / Camphor balls - (for use in the diya if required), Small garland of flowers (1-2 garlands), Circular Sieve (1 item), Cotton (used as wick in diyas as well as to block the exit of the Karva), Food ingredients (used during the puja), Clean Drinking Water.
  • Raw rice grains - 100 gm, Supari / Areca Nut / Betel Nut.
  • Mehndi Cones/ Henna Cones (2 items).
  • Alta / Red Dye for Hands & Feet, Nail Polish, Hair Clips and other decorative items as needed, Indian Anklet (Payal), Fruit Juice, Sweets (Home-made or purchased from shops), Fruits, Puri, Kachori and Halwa.

Process of the Karva Chauth Traditional Ritual

  • Start preparing for the Karwa Chauth festivities in advance. If you have made plans to celebrate it, buy make-up and cosmetics (shringar), jewellery and Karva lamps and plates. Remember that the local shops and bazaars have exclusive products so you have a plenty of options.
  • Get up before sunrise on the day of Karva Chauth. Have something to eat and drink.
  • Women in Uttar Pradesh eat soot feni a night before the day of celebration (a traditional Garbanzo bean and milk dish) with milk in sugar. It is said to help the women abstain from water the next day. Women in Punjab have the sargi in Punjab that serves as pre sunrise meal.
  • On the day of Karwa Chauth, spend time with the other women in your community.
  • Paint Henna on each other’s hands and feet.
  • It is better if you get your husband (or fiancé) involved. Husbands offer gifts and treats in exchange for the tough fasting and prayers of their wives.
  • At Around 4 pm in the afternoon, have a small square area (40 cm x 40 cm should be sufficient) next to a vertical wall inside or outside your house. Ensure your clean the area with water. In the middle of the area create a Swastik mark with Turmeric.
  • Place the Karva Chauth Calendar (i.e. image of Karva Chauth) against the vertical wall.
  • The Karva Chauth Calendar has images of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva, Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha as well as the representation of the Karva Chauth Katha/Story. Just before the image, place a small bowl with raw rice grains.
  • Have rouli (red handan), mouli (sacred thread), haldi powder (turmeric powder), a glass of clean water or a glass of milk, a clean betel leaf and a betel nut in a plate.
  • The kindly place the karva in the center of the Swastik mark that you created and fill it with water or milk. Make sure you put cotton on the side of the Karva to stop liquid spill.
  • Close the top of the Karva with its cover and over the cover place grains of wheat and sugar.
  • Now apply the red handan to the Karva and then tie the mouli (sacred thread) around its neck. If you are performing this ritual along, prepare another Karva repeating the above steps. Keep this second Karva next to the image of Karva Chauth. This Karva is said to belong to Goddess Parvati.
  • Dip the Mango leaves into the glass of water/milk and use it to sprinkle some of the liquid onto the image of Karva Chauth.
  • Now apply red handan to the images of Gods on the Karva Chauth calendar. Then mix a small amount of turmeric and raw rice grains and sprinkle it on the image with your fingers.
  • Place the betel leaf before the image and on the top of it, place the betel nut.
  • Now exchange your Karva with the Karva of Goddess Parvati. This exchange has to be done seven times so that at the end you are holding Maa Parvati’s karva in your hands.
  • While exchanging recite the following words: ‘Kindly take my Karva, oh married woman whose husband will live forever. Please take my karva, oh sister of seven brothers. Please take my karva, oh mother of seven children!’
  • Pray to the image of Karva Chauth: ‘I pray to you with whatever understanding I have of rituals. Please forgive me in case I make any mistakes.’
  • Next is to do a recitation of the story of Karva Chauth, also known as ‘Karva Chauth Katha’. These stories can be read in any language of your choice. Keep in mind that while reading or listening to the story, you should hold some raw rice grains in your fists. When each story is completed, loosen your fist and place the rice grains into the pallu of your saree. Then take another fistful of rice as the next story is recited.
  • After the katha recitation, donate the Karvas to a near-by temple. Also, the rice grains used during the ritual should be donated to the temple. Then touch the feet of all elders in the family to seek their blessings.

Main Ceremony: Evening Hours

Karwa Chauth Traditional Rituals
  • Dress up afresh.
  • Organize the Puja items required for worship of the Moon at night in order to break the Karva Chauth fast. The list of
  • items required are: A small pot of clean water, a plate with fruits, sweets, salted food items, money, a small bowl of raw rice grains, red chandan, turmeric powder and a mud lamp filled with oil and a cotton wick. And the last, a circular sieve.
  • Once you see the Moon in the sky, light the diya (mud lamp) on the plate and ensure you have a direct view of the Moon.
  • Your husband should accompany you during this ritual.
  • Offer prayers to Chandra, the Moon god in whatever language you are comfortable.
  • First worship the Moon with the plat that has the diya and move it in a circular motion around the image of the Moon.
  • Sprinkle raw rice grains and turmeric powder in the direction of the Moon. Following this, offer the pot of water to the Moon. Just hold the pot in the direction of the Moon and pour some of the water into the ground before you. Leave some water in the pot as you will need it to break your fast.
  • Close your eyes and pray to Chandra for your wish.
  • Look at the Moon through the circular sieve and then at your husband. Your husband should now break your fast by first giving you some water from the pot. He should then take food items and offer you.
  • Now carry the plate inside, give it to your mother-in-law. Then touch her feet and she would bless you. Enjoy a delicious meal with your family.

Karva Chauth Rituals for Unmarried Girls & Women

Karva Chauth Puja at Home

While traditionally, this celebration was exclusively observed by married women, recently, unmarried girls and women have begun to observe this rigorous fast for their spouses. In reality, many single ladies (and even single men) observe this fast in order to be rewarded with the perfect spouse or wife. For them, it is the purest expression of love and dedication. However, there are certain rites that distinguish the unmarried from the wedded.

For example, whereas married women and men must wait until the moon rises in the sky to break their fast, unmarried individuals may break their day-long fast by casting a short glance at the pole star.


Karwa Chauth Puja & Mantras

Goddess Parvati, as Akhand Saubhagyavati, is worshiped first at the start of Karwa Chauth Pooja Vidhi, followed by Lord Shiva, Lord Kartikeya, and Lord Ganesha. On Karwa Chauth, women also adore Goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata, who symbolize Goddess Parvati herself.

On the day of fasting, after having a morning bath, ladies should take the Sankalp vow to maintain the fast for the sake of the husband and family. During Sankalp, it is also said that the fast will be without food or drink, and that the fast will be broken when the moon is seen.

Sankalpa Mantra

मम सुखसौभाग्य पुत्रपौत्रादि सुस्थिर श्री प्राप्तये करक चतुर्थी व्रतमहं करिष्ये।
Translation to English: "I would fast on Karak Chaturthi for the well-being of my spouse, sons, and grandchildren, as well as to acquire stable wealth."

Karwa Chauth Puja is conducted during Sandhya, which begins after sunset. Karwa Chauth Puja is performed to get the blessings of Goddess Parvati. To worship Mata Parvati, women may draw Goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata on the wall or utilize the Chauth Mata picture on the printed Karwa Chauth Puja Calendar. Goddess Parvati is represented by Goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata.

Goddess Parvati Mantra

The Mantra that should be chanted during Parvati Puja is as follows:
नमः शिवायै शर्वाण्यै सौभाग्यं संतति शुभाम्‌। प्रयच्छ भक्तियुक्तानां नारीणां हरवल्लभे॥
Translation to English: "O Lord Shiva's loving spouse, please give long life on the husband and beautiful sons on your female followers."

After Goddess Gaura, Lord Shiva, Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha are worshipped.

Typically, ladies conduct Karwa Chauth Pooja in groups and tell the story of Karwa Chauth Mahatamya, also known as the magnanimous Karwa Chauth fasting.

Karwa should be offered as charity to a Brahmin or an eligible lady after Puja. The Karak should be filled with water or milk and valuable stones or money placed within. Karwa should be offered to a Brahmin or a Suhagan woman.


How to Do Karwa Chauth Puja Vidhi at Home

Karwa Chauth Pooja at home’s preparations begin a day ahead of time. Married ladies purchase shringar, or customary adornments, as well as other Pooja goods like as karwa, matthi, Heena, and so on.

They make meals early in the morning and eat it before dawn. Other celebratory activities like as adorning hands and feet with Heena, adorning the Pooja thali, and visiting friends and family fill the morning.

Women assemble in the late afternoon in a shared location, such as a temple, a garden, or the home of someone who has organized the pooja. The tale of Karwa Chouth is told by an older woman or the pujarin.

The basics of this meeting and listening to the Karwa Chauth tale are a particular mud pot, which is regarded a symbol of the Lord Ganesha, a metal urn water filled, flowers, idols of Ambika Gaur Mata and Goddess Parvati, and some fruits, mathi, and food grains. A portion of this is given to the gods and the storyteller.

Previously, an idol of Gaur Mata was constructed out of dirt and cow dung. Only an idol of Goddess Parvati is maintained now. While listening to the Karwa tale, everyone burns an earthen candle in their thalis. The thali also contains sindoor, incense sticks, and rice.

At this time, ladies wear thick saris or chunries in red, pink, or other wedding hues, and they decorate themselves with all the emblems of a married woman, such as a nose pin, tika, bindi, chonp, bangles, earrings, and so on.

When the moon rises, the ladies look for its reflection in a thali of water, a dupatta, or a sieve. They give water to the moon in exchange for favors. They pray for their spouses' safety, wealth, and long life. This is the end of the day's fast.

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