Married Hindu women in India marked the Karva Chauth festival on Thursday by fasting and praying for the good health, well-being and long life of their husbands.
Karva Chauth, literally meaning “pot” and “fourth”, is celebrated mostly in northern India on the fourth day after the full moon in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik, which usually falls in October.
Women begin the day with an early prayer ritual and take a pledge to not eat or drink anything from sunrise to moonrise.
The fast is only complete after the moon is sighted and worshipped.
Origin of Karva Chauth
It is believed that a queen named Veervati was the only sister of seven brothers and was very pampered. During a visit to her parents home after marriage, she fasted for her husband’s longevity.
As she waited desperately to see the moon to break her fast, her brothers, who were anguished by her desperation, tricked her by placing a round mirror in a tree and a lamp in front of it.
This made the mirror look like the moon had risen and they convinced Veervati that the moon had risen. The moment she broke her fast, word arrived that her husband was dead.
After she discovered her brothers tricked her, she prayed to the goddess Parvati, a Hindu deity, performed special rituals and pleaded for her husband to be restored life. After seeing Veervati’s dedication, the goddess suggested that she keep a new fast and follow the rituals carefully.
Veervati did as she was told and saved her husband’s life, setting the example that married women now follow.
Karva Chauth rituals
Women observing the festival wear new clothes, mostly red to signify a happy married life. They buy “karva”, or pots, paint them and fill them with bangles and ribbons, home-made sweets, make-up and small items of clothing.
The women exchange the pots in the evening when they gather in parks and homes and listen to Veervati’s story. Once they see the moon rise, they break their fast.