Autumn is a period of festivals in India. The festival of Karva Chauth too falls in this season and it is celebrated on the fourth day of the new moon in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik. On this occasion married Hindu women observes a ritual fast for the longevity, well-being and prosperity of their husbands. The fast is not to be broken until the moon is sighted at night. And it is also an important custom for the husbands to present karwa chauth gifts for wife.
Autumn season is a period of festivities and celebrations in India. Many traditional festivals of the country fall during the Shravan and Kartik months of the Hindu calendar, which is usually between August and November. The festival of Karva Chauth is celebrated during this festive season. The festival falls 9 days prior to Diwali and it is celebrated on ‘Kartik ki chauth’, which is the fourth day of the new moon in the month of Kartik.
The name of the festival comes from the Sanskrit word “Karva” which means an earthen pot with a spout, and “chauth” meaning the “fourth day.” On the occasion of Karwa Chauth, married women in the country observe a ritual feast that last the whole day. Indian traditions maintain that that the prayers of devoted women are heard by the gods and they bring safety and well-being of their husbands. Women undertake this rigorous fast without any complaints just for the longevity and prosperity of their husbands. They spend the entire day without a morsel of food or even a drop of water. The fast is a marked testimony to the love and devotion that Indian women have for their husbands.
The rituals of the festival start well before dawn. Following a bath early in the morning, the woman adorns new clothes and partakes of a meal of select grains and fruit which is commonly known as Sargi. It is the traditions of the mothers in Law to present the sargi items to the women; the sargi is also considered an ideal gift for Karwa Chauth. And for the remainder of the day, the women abstain from food and water. The women are also excluded from any work and chore on Karva Chauth. They spend the day applying henna to themselves and others, or visiting friends and neighbors. In the evening all the women gather in a group where an elderly woman narrates mythological stories centered on Karva Chauth and its significance.
The Karwa Chauth fast is ended only after the moon comes in sight. Children are supposed to be on the lookout for the moon to come out, and when the moon is sighted, the news spreads quickly through the neighborhood. Women are seen making their way to the rooftop, where an offering of water and flowers renders the worship complete.
First, they view the moon through a sieve or a dupatta. Then they perform poojas and offer water to the moon from the earthen pot or “Karva” which signifies peace and prosperity. The husbands are also present when the moon is sighted. They offer the first morsel or drop of water to their wives after which the fast is officially ended. Although no gifts would be appropriate for repaying such noble acts, the Karva Chauth gifts are meant to show appreciation and strengthen marital bonds. People present a whole variety of gifts on the occasions and the Karwa chauth gift items may vary from traditional gifts like pooja thalis and dry fruits to perfumes and jewelry among others.