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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Karwa Chauth Date

Karwa Chauth is celebrated with great enthusiasm by married women in north and northwestern India. It is a Hindu festival, which is celebrated about nine days prior to Diwali - the festival of lights. As per the Hindu calendar, Karva Chauth falls on the fourth day of the waning moon in the Hindu month of Kartik, around October-November. On the day, married women dressed in bright red or maroon colored traditional dress (saree, salwar-kameez or lehenga), observe a stringent fast, worship Goddess Gauri and pray for a long life for their husband. The shops are filled with the fresh stocks of attire and accessories for women. Married women eagerly shop for colorful bangles and other accessories, traditional attire. 

The air is filled with festivity, on the wonderful occasion of Karva Chauth. The celebrations of the festival begin early in the morning, before sunrise, when married women wake up and take bath. Thereafter, they pray to the Almighty and eat 'sargi', the traditional meal containing fruits and food grains that is offered by their mother-in-law. After consuming the meal, the married women would observe a stringent fast for the rest of the day. To pass the time during the daytime, they would indulge in their daily chores, play games, apply mehndi (henna) in their hands, chat with other women and do interesting activities. 

In the evening, a gathering of married women assembles at one's home or the nearby temple to conduct Karwa Chauth puja. They sit in a circle, with a thali containing kumkum (vermilion), chandan (sandalwood powder), chawal (rice), a lota filled with water (preferably Gangajal) and diya (earthen lamp). At the center of the circle of women, a two-inch tall idol or the picture of Goddess Gauri is placed, with the Karva (pitcher) positioned nearby it. An elderly woman in the group narrates the Karwa Chauth katha (story), which is listened by others very carefully. Once the story is over, the women would pass on the puja thali, by singing Karwa Chauth song.

Once the puja is over, the women would return to their home and wait for the moon to rise, so that they could catch its glimpse and break their fast. To serve the purpose, they would go to a place from where the moon is clearly visible, preferably the terrace of their home. Once the moon rises, they would worship the moon, see it through a sieve and catch a glimpse of their husband through the same sieve. Thereafter, the Karwa Chauth fast is broken by drinking water. This is followed by a lavish dinner. Year by year, married Hindu women in the north and north western parts of India celebrate Karwa Chauth with pomp and gaiety. In 2012, it will be celebrated on 2nd November.

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