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HomeCultural and LifestyleCulturalKarwa Chauth from the eyes of modern Indian women.

Karwa Chauth from the eyes of modern Indian women.

Karwa Chauth is a one-day festival celebrated by married Hindu women. On this day, they observe a fast from sunrise to moonrise and pray for the well-being and longevity of their husbands. Unmarried women also participate, hoping to secure a desired life partner. This festival falls on the 4th day of the dark fortnight (Krishna paksha) in the month of Kartik, according to the Hindu Lunar Calendar, typically occurring in mid to late October. It is primarily celebrated in Northern Indian states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

‘Unveiling the Historical Roots of Karwa Chauth’

The term “Karwa Chauth” is a combination of two words: “Karwa,” signifying an earthen pot with a spout, and “Chauth,” which means fourth. The significance of the earthen pot lies in its use by women to offer water to the moon as part of the festival rituals. The festival is enriched with various mythological tales-

1. One of the most well-known stories involving Savitri and Satyavan. In this tale, Savitri’s prayers and determination brought her husband back from the clutches of death.

2. Another popular story is that of Veervati, the only sister of seven loving brothers, who mistakenly broke her fast due to their deception, leading to the news of her husband’s death. Veervati prayed for a year, and her devotion pleased God, resulting in her husband’s miraculous return to life.

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This tradition is rooted in the belief that it started with women praying for the safe return of their husbands who had gone to fight in distant lands or to mark the end of the harvest season. Karva Chauth entails a “Nirjala” fast, during which women abstain from both food and water throughout the day. They offer prayers to Goddess Gauri, an incarnation of Parvati, seeking blessings for a long and joyful married life.

‘Karwa Chauth – Through the Eras’

In contemporary times, Karwa Chauth continues to be observed by some women as a matter of cultural and personal choice. Others, however, perceive it as an antiquated and constraining tradition. A woman’s perspective on Karwa Chauth is shaped by numerous factors, including her individual beliefs, cultural background, and personal values. Some regard it as a means to express love and commitment, while others question its relevance in today’s society. It is crucial to recognize the diversity of people’s opinions, which cannot be generalised based on the era in which they were born.

Modern women have adapted Karwa Chauth rituals by infusing them with contemporary elements. This includes donning traditional or fashionable attire and jewellery, decorating their hands and feet with mehendi designs. The day typically commences with a pre-dawn meal (Sargi) and the exchange of gifts from husbands. While the traditional day-long fast without food or water remains a core component, some women opt for partial fasting due to health considerations. Evenings are marked by social gatherings with family and friends, fostering a supportive atmosphere. Those separated from their husbands may utilise technology, such as video calls, to view the moon or communicate. Some modern women prioritise the spiritual and personal growth aspects of the fast over traditional gender roles.

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In the 1960s and 1990s, Karwa Chauth celebrations adhered to more traditional and conservative customs. Women rigorously fasted from sunrise to moonrise, refraining from both food and water. They adorned themselves in traditional attire and jewellery, and mehendi application was a popular practice. The day began with a pre-dawn meal, often prepared by the mother-in-law. Evening gatherings were more prevalent, as technology had not yet facilitated long-distance communication. Married women congregated for a puja, involving the recitation of prayers and songs specific to Karwa Chauth. Breaking the fast at moonrise was a significant moment, facilitated by husbands who played an active role in offering water and food.

Over time, gift exchanges have evolved to include contemporary items like gadgets and cosmetics, whereas decades ago, traditional gifts such as bangles, sarees, or symbols of marital love were customary.

‘Contemporary perspective of Women’

● Speaking to True To Life on this day of Karwa chauth, Monday, Mrs Nikita Dev Sharma,31 from Kolkata expressed, “I skip some of the steps, since I have to take my medicines, I do partial fasting rather than the traditional complete.” Adding, “Yet I still believe the essence behind this traditional practice. For the longevity of my partner,” she claimed.

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● Ms. Ruhi ,27 from Burdwan said, “I’m not married yet. I’m keeping vrat for my fiancé. This November we’re gonna get married. So, for our happy married life and his safety I’ll do fast and congregate for the puja.”

It’s truly remarkable how this modern generation continues to embrace tradition and culture, even in the face of health challenges and other obstacles. While the way Karwa Chauth is celebrated has evolved significantly, one constant remains: the unwavering devotion and gratitude modern women share with their counterparts from previous generations towards their partners.

Now-a-days, in North India and Northwestern India, Karva Chauth has taken on the role of a romantic festival, symbolising the deep love and connection between a husband and wife. The influence of Bollywood has extended the reach of Karva Chauth beyond its North Indian roots. Thanks to the glitz and glamour of the film industry, Karva Chauth has transcended regional boundaries and become a widely popular and celebrated festival throughout India. It has gained recognition and prominence, evolving into a cultural phenomenon that transcends its geographic origins.

Sources : Wikipedia, Pinterest and other trustworthy sources

By : Ankitaa Bal

From Kolkata

Reporting for true to life

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