Karva Chauth Pooja is one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals of India. It is a one-day festival celebrated on the fourth day of Poornima (full moon) in the month of Kartik. On this day married women observe fast from sunrise to sunset for the well-being, prosperity, health and long life of their husbands.
Unmarried women also observe fasts for their fiancés and desired husbands. ‘Karva’ means a small earthen pot and ‘Chauth’ means fourth in Hindi. The festival is predominantly celebrated in the northern part of India in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and subtly in some regions of the southern India.
Karva Chauth rituals: Vrat Vidhi and Pooja
A lengthy list of items is required for the Karva Chauth Pooja, that are as detailed below:
- Karva Chauth Calendar
- Rangoli powder
- Flower garlands
- Rice Grains
- Betel nuts
- Dhoop batti and Agar batti
- Paan leaves (Betel leaves)
- Decorated Karva (Mud Pot)
- Rouli (Red Sandalwood powder)
- Mouli (Sacred thread)
- Diyas (Lamps)
- Cosmetics (Red bangles, Henna cone, Alta, Nail polish, Anklet)
- Sweets and food items based on your preference
On the day before Karva Chauth, women are required to have a head bath and apply henna and on their hands and feet respectively. The Sarghi, the food that is to be consumed on the fasting day is also prepared one day before. Traditionally, mother in laws prepares Sarghi for the women. However, women celebrating alone can prepare it by themselves. Sarghi is usually vermicelli pudding, but you can have any dish of your choices such as fruits, juice or sweets. The food consumed must not contain onion and garlic.
On the day of Karva Chauth Pooja, women are required to wake up at around 4:30 am (before the sunrise). As the sun rises the Sarghi should be consumed as breakfast, this marks the beginning of the fast. After this, women can adorn themselves with a beautiful saree, jewelry and cosmetics. They can spend some time making Rangoli, outside or inside the house.
Later in the afternoon at around 4pm, the preparations for the pooja has to begin, for this a clean corner of the house is chosen and a swastika mark is drawn using wet turmeric. The Karva Chauth Calendar is placed against a vertical wall. This calendar contains the images of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartik. On a plate, other pooja items such as Rouli, Mouli, Haldi Powder a glass of milk and beetle nuts and leaves are placed. After this the Karva is placed over the swastika mark and the milk is poured into it. The Karva is sealed and some wheat grains and sugar granules are kept on it. The Rouli is applied on it and the Mouli is tied across it. If the pooja is carried out by one person alone, another Karva needs to be prepared and placed in front of the Karva Chauth Calendar. The next step is to apply some Rouli and sprinkle some rice and turmeric on it, followed by placing beetle leaves and nuts and lighting Dhoop sticks or Agar battis and adorning the image with a garland.
Now the karva needs to be exchanged seven times with the one placed near goddess Parvathi. During the exchange, women have to pray for their husbands and recite ‘Karva le karva le sada suhaagan karva le, Karva le karva le saat bhai ki behen karva le, Karva le karva le saat putron ki ma karva le’.
If there is a group of women then the karva should be exchanged with the woman sitting next to you.
This marks the end of the Karva Chauth Pooja. After the completion of the pooja, the Karva Chauth Katha is recited. Some rice grains should be held within the fists and after completion of each part, a few grains should be tucked in the pallu of the saree. After the story narration, the Karvas should be donated to any temple nearby. Finally, women touch the feet of the elders and seek blessings from them.
In the evening, the pooja samagri needs to be arranged i.e. a pot with water, a plate with sweets, a small bowl with rice grains, Rouli, Haldi a diya and a sieve. Once the moon appears in the sky, light up the diya and go to a place where you get a good view of the moon with your husband. Worship the moon and sprinkle some rice grains, water and turmeric towards it. Offer some water to the moon by looking at its direction and sprinkling some on the ground. Finally look at the moon through the sieve and then look at your husband and receive some water as an offering from him followed by sweets to break the fast.
Regional variations of Karva Chauth Pooja celebrations
Punjab: A few days prior to the festival, the streets get flooded with various accessories and decorative items such as sarees, bangles, cosmetics, embellished suits, and other garments. Apart from these, there are numerous stalls selling delectable traditional sweets and eatables. Mehendi artists from various places like Agra, Jaipur, and Delhi arrive to decorate women’s hands with bright henna and earn lots of money.
Rajasthan: In Rajasthan, women make the Karvas on their own using mud. They wear their wedding dress called ‘gote wale chunri’ on the occasion.
Uttar Pradesh: Apart from observing fast, the women adorn the walls of their homes with drawings of Goddess Gauri, the moon and the sun. They also make Karvas by themselves and perform the evening Pooja by lighting lamps.
Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh: New brides receive gifts, jewelry and new clothes from their mothers as well from their mother in laws.
Mahrashtra: Here the festival is not as popular as in the North. Married women observe a fast named ‘Vaat Savitri’ for their husbands.
Southern India: In south India Karva Chauth Pooja is celebrated as Karadaiyan Nombu. The festival is also called as ‘Savithri Vratham’. Married Tamil Brahmin women observe fasts for their husbands.
Tales associated with the Karva Chauth Pooja
As per the Hindu mythology there are numerous tales associated with the Karva Chauth Pooja celebrations. Some of them are detailed below:
The tale of Queen Veervati
There was a beautiful queen named Veervati, who had seven brothers. As she was observing the Karva Chauth fast she started experiencing severe thirst as well as hunger. Her brothers could not bear her plight and placed a mirror on a pipal tree which resembled the moon, so that she would break the fast. Queen Veervati mistook it for the moon and broke her fast. Unfortunately, the moment she broke the fast she got the news of her husband’s demise. The devastated queen cried all night and her shakti compelled a goddess to appear in the sky and asked her why she was crying. When the queen told the Goddess about her husband’s death, the goddess told her that she was tricked by her brothers and advised her to repeat the fast with complete devotion. Finally, Yama, the God of death was compelled to bring her husband back to life.
The tale of Mahabharata
It is believed that Draupadi had also observed the Karva Chaut fast. When Arjuna went away to the Nilgiris for his penance the other Pandavas faced a lot of problems. During the difficult period, Draupadi sought help from Lord Krishna. He told her that Goddess Parvathi had sought guidance from Lord Shiva and she was advised to observe the fast of Karva Chaut. Lord Shiva had narrated the story of queen Veervati to Goddess Parvati. Draupadi followed the instructions and sincerely observed the Karva Chaut fast. Eventually, the Pandavas could overcome all their obstacles.
The tale of Karva
There was a lady named Karva who was deeply devoted towards her husband. With the immense amount of love and affection she had towards him, she acquired spiritual powers. Once, her husband was bathing at a river and got caught by a crocodile. Karva captured the crocodile using a cotton yarn and asked Yama to send the Crocodile to hell. But Yama disagreed, so she ended up threatening him and told him that she could curse and destroy him. Yama got scared of the strong and powerful Pati-vrat (devotion towards the husband) and sent the crocodile to hell as Karva demanded. Karva and her husband had a beautiful life after that.
The tale of Satyavan and Savitri
Savitri had immense love and devotion towards her husband Satyavan. Once Yama tried to procure Satyavan’s soul. Savitri cried and begged to Yama to grant him life, but Yama refused. Savitri stopped eating and drinking after that. Yama told her she could ask for anything expect to bring her husband back to life. Savitri wished for three children and Yama agreed. But being a Pati-vrat she could not allow any man expect her husband to become the father of her children. Hence Yama was compelled to restore her husband back to life.
This year Karva Chauth Pooja falls in October. As always women will celebrate it with zest and joy, preserving our cultures and traditions!