Karva Chauth Vrat(fasting) Legend and Vidhi(Process)
Posted by kathavarta on June 16, 2008
The Legend of Karwa Chauth:
The Story Of Queen Veeravati
A long long time ago, there lived a beautiful girl by the name of Veeravati. She was the only sister of her seven loving brothers, who was married to a king. On the occasion of the first Karva Chauth after her marriage, she went to her parents’ house. After sunrise, she observed a strict fast. However, the queen couldn’t stand the rigors of fasting and was desperatly waiting for the moon to rise. The seven brothers who loved her dearly, were very disturbed watching the distress of their sister and decided to end her fast by deceiving her. Then the brothers reflected a mirror through Pipal tree leaves. The sister, taken it as moon rise, broke the fast and took food. However, the moment the queen ate her dinner, she received the news that her husband, the king, was seriously ill.
The queen rushed to her husband’s palace and on the way, she met Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. Parvati informed her that the king had died because the queen had broken her fast by watching a false moon. However, when the queen asked her for forgiveness, the goddess granted her the boon that the king would be revived. But to achieve this, she would have to undertake the Karva Chauth fast under strict rituals, then only her husband would come top life. Thus, by strictly following all the rituals of Karva chauth, queen Veeravati relivened her husband.
The Legend Of Mahabharata
The belief in this fast and its associated rituals goes back to the pre-Mahabharata times. Draupadi, too, is said to have observed this fast. Once Arjun went to the Nilgiris for penance and the rest of the Pandavas faced many problems in his absence. Draupadi, out of desperation, remembered Lord Krishna and asked for help. Lord Krishna reminded her that on an earlier occasion, when Goddess Parvati had sought Lord Shivas guidance under similar circumstances, she had been advised to observe the fast of Karva Chauth. Draupadi followed the instructions and observed the fast with all its rituals. Consequently, the Pandavas were able to overcome their problems. On this day, fasting women listen to Karva Chauth legends with rapt attention.
The Story Of Satyavan and Savitri
There is the story of the Satyavan and Savitri. When Lord Yama, came to procure Satyavan’s soul, Savitri begged him to grant him life. When he refused, she stopped eating and drinking and Yamraj finally relented. He granted her, her husband’s life. To this day, Karva Chauth is celebrated with great faith and belief. The Legend Of KarvaAccording to another legend, a woman named Karva was deeply devoted to her husband. One day while bathing, he was caught by a crocodile. Karva came running and bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn. She then went to Yama, the Lord of the death, and requested him to send the offending crocodile to hell. When Yama refused, she threatened to curse him. Afraid of the power of a devoted wife, Yama readily accepted and sent the crocodile to Yamalok or hell, and blessed Karva’s husband with long life.
Origin and Significance:
The fast of Karva Chauth is of particular importance to Hindu women as they believe it ensures the well-being, prosperity and longevity of their husbands. The origin of this festival was based on a very sweet and noble idea. Though this idea has lost its true sense as today the whole outlook of this festival has changed. Long time back, girls used to get married at a very early stage, and had to go and live with their in-laws in other villages. If she had any problems with her husband or in-laws, she would have no one to talk to or seek support from. Her own parents and relatives would be quite far and unreachable. There used to be no telephones, buses and trains long ago.
Thus the custom started that, at the time of marriage, when bride would reach her in-laws, she would befriend another woman there who would be her friend or sister for life. It would be like god-friends or god-sisters. Their friendship would be sanctified through a small Hindu ceremony right during the marriage. Once the bride and this woman had become god-friends or god-sisters, they would remain so all their lives and recognize the relation as such. They would also treat each other like real sisters.
During any difficulty later in life, involving even the husband or in-laws, these women would be able to confidently talk or seek help from each other. Thus Karva Chauth started as a festival to celebrate this friendship (relationship) between the once-brides and their god-friends (god-sisters). Praying and fasting for the sake of husband came later and is secondary. It was probably added, along with other mythical tales, to enhance the festival. In any case, husband would always be associated with this festival, because the day of starting this holy friendship between two god-sisters was essentially the day of bride’s marriage to him. Thus praying and fasting for him by his wife during a celebration of her relationship with the god-friend would be quite logical.
Thus, originally Karva Chauth is once a year festival to renew and celebrate the relationship between god-friends (god-sisters). It had a tremendous social and cultural significance once when world lacked the ways to communicate and move around easily.
Karwa Chauth Puja Process:
The fast of Karwa Chauth is kept 9 days before Diwali. It falls on the fourth day of the Kartik month by the Hindu calendar (fourth day of the waning moon or the dark fortnight).
Karwa Chauth is considered one of the most important fasts observed by the married Hindu women. On this day the women pray for the welfare and long life of their husbands. The festival is followed mainly in the northern parts of the country. Married women eat food early in the morning, before sunrise. They are not supposed to eat or even drink water during the day. In the evening the ladies listen to the Karwa Chauth Katha (the legend). The fast is over after the moonrise.
The Puja Process
The pooja preparations start a day in advance. Married women buy the shringar or the traditional adornments and the other pooja items like the karwa, matthi, heena etc.
Early in the morning they prepare food and have it before sunrise. The morning passes by in other festive activities like decorating hand and feet with heena, decorating the pooja thali and meeting friends and relatives.
In the late afternoon women gather at a common place like temple or a garden or someones’ place who has arranged the pooja. An elderly lady or the pujarin narrates the legend of Karwa Chouth.
The essentials of this gathering and listening of the Karwa chauth story , a special mud pot, that is considered a symbol of lord Ganesha, a metal urn filled with water, flowers, idols of Ambika Gaur Mata, Goddess Parwati and some fruits, mathi and food grains. A part of this is offered to the deities and the storyteller.
Earlier an idol of Gaur Mata was made using earth and cowdung. Now just an idol of Goddess Parwati is kept. Every one lights an earthen lamp in their thalis while listening to the Karwa story. Sindoor, incense sticks and rice are also kept in the thali.
At this time the women wear heavy saris or chunries in red , pink or other bridal colors, and adorn themselves with all other symbols of a married women like, nose pin, tika, bindi, chonp, bangles, earrings etc.
Once the moon rises, the women see its reflection in a thali of water, or through a dupatta or a sieve. They offer water to the moon and seek blessings. They pray for the safety, prosperity and long life of their husbands. This marks the end of the day long fast.
Materials needed for the Puja:
Karwa Chauth is a fast undertaken by married Hindu women who offer prayers seeking the welfare, prosperity, well-being, and longevity of their husbands. This festival requires a through planning before the actual date and the following list of items can prove to be handful, especially for women who are doing their first Karva Chauth vrat.
· Sargi: which includes pheni (a sweet made of milk and semolina), a dish made of some cereal like parantha , sweets and fruits
· Ten matthis with ten puas (a sweet made of jaggery)
Sringar or Beauty Essential Items
· Mehndi (Henna) on palms and feet.
· Colourful glass bangles.
· Makeup items like Bindi, sindoor, lipstick, rouge, kajal, eye-liner, mascara etc.
· Jewelry – Mangalsutra, maangtika, rings, bangles, necklace, earrings, payal, toe-rings, nosepin etc.
· Baya (gifts for the mother-in-law – ideally, a sari)
· A set of new clothes
· Platform for the puja
· Cowdung to make the image of the goddess
· A strand of red thread
· Karva (vessel containing water)
· A plate
· Cash Other Puja items
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