calendar icon Thu, October 17, 2019

A festival popularly celebrated by married women in India, Karwa Chauth signifies the love of a wife for her husband. On this day, women fast from sunrise till moonrise, as it is believed to keep their husbands safe. The festival falls on the fourth day of Kartika month (October-November) in the Hindu calendar every year. The word 'Karwa' denotes an earthen pot that is used to offer 'argya' to the moon, while 'chauth' stands for the fourth day on which the festival is celebrated. 
How is it celebrated?
On Karwa Chauth, women wake up before sunrise and eat 'sargi', which is a curation of sweets and snacks, given to a daughter-in-law by her mother-in-law. After eating their fill, women prepare to fast for the day. The festival sees them decked to the nines in beautiful clothes and jewellery. They also apply henna on their hands as it is considered auspicious.
In the evening, they gather together and gift 'karwas' to each other, which are filled with sweets, cosmetics, vermilion, bangles, bindis etc. After offering prayers to Gods, they listen to vrat kathas (mythological stories or legends) that are recited by a priest or an elderly woman. After these rituals, the women have to await moonrise so they can break their fast.
Once the moon is visible, the wife sees it through a chhalni (sieve), and offers argya to it. Finally, she sees her husband through the same sieve. After this, the husband feeds his wife with sweets and water from the puja thali.
 Why is it celebrated?
Legend has it that once there was a courageous woman, called Karwa, who was deeply in love with her husband. It is said that her intense devotion gave her spiritual powers. It so happened that one day, her husband was bathing in a river and was attacked by a crocodile. Karwa bound the crocodile with cotton yarn and asked Yama, the god of death, for help. It is believed that even Yama was afraid of the devotion of Karwa and thus sent the crocodile to hell and spared the husband's life.
Another legend says that once there was a queen named Veervati, who was adored by her seven brothers. On the day of Karwa Chauth, she was fasting rigorously and eagerly waiting for moonrise as she was famished. Seeing this, her brothers were greatly pained. To ease her suffering, they hung a mirror on a tree, making it look as if the moon was up in the sky. It so happened that when Veeravati broke her fast thinking the mirror was the moon, she received news of her husband's death. Inconsolable, she cried to the Gods and was visited by a Goddess who told her how she had been tricked by her brothers. To seek mercy, Veeravati fasted again with complete devotion. This moved Yama, the god to death, to compassion and he restored her husband to life.