AN INTRINSIC LOVE FESTIVAL CALLED KARVA CHAUTH ON 4TH NOVEMBER
Festival in any societies are numerous
Some are to commemorate coming season
While others are of National importance
But there are the ones
Which are of immense significance
And prove to be a cementing factor for consolidation of relationships
Between the partners in the household – the spouses
Thus assist in uniting the hearts and souls
Karva Chauth, in essence, is one such festival.
Marriage is the most sacred institution
With common rights and obligations
Which differ based on religions and cultures
Wherein the spouses
Unite to fulfill a common purpose
With interpersonal relationships
With sanctified and sanctioned biological relations
As per the cultural modes and traditions
Unite to fulfill a common purpose
And then under their care steady evolution
Of their progenies
Different cultures follow different customs
And cultural traditions
To provide legal, social, financial
Spiritual and support to each other effusing with emotions.
There are varieties of traditional
And cultural modes which are followed
But each has the common purpose
To enhance the emotional bonds
Between the two spouses.
As a reminder each year
That they have common goal in hand
To offer sincere prayer to Almighty God
For longevity of life-span
Of her husband
The women folks observe strict fast on Karva Chauth
Karva means an earthen pot
It is tastefully painted
While Chauth means day fourth
A festival falling on fourth day of Krishna Paksh
While a strict fast for the entire day is observed
The women folks do not take anything
Not even a drop of water to quench their thirst
For this is the holiest day
When the women folks pray to God
To grant longevity to their husbands & entire family
Along with peace and prosperity
Besides good health and wellness aplenty
So that all live a life full of care for each other
While fulfilling the purpose of their lives
This day too is considered as the sacred one
To renew the promises made
While solemnizing their marriages
And thus establish a relationship
Which could withstand any hardship
Which may come in the way
While the couples perform their multifarious functions as husbands & Wives
For taking care of their family effectively
With a common objective of transferring traditional modes
Of behavior with rock-solid conviction
That while good relationship between spouses is significant
But when this happens with the blessings of our Lord, a tireless giver of gifts
Our home becomes in reality a heaven on the earth
Which cannot be compensated by anything tangible for us earthlings.
KARVA CHAUTH – A FESTICAL OF CONSOLIDATION OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPOUSES
Karva means earthen pot (mainly a spherical earthen pot and paint the same with different colours so as to beautify it) and Chauth means fourth day – a festival which falls on the fourth day of fortnight or Krisha Paksh of the fourth day of Kartik (Full Moon – Poornima) according to Hindu Calendar. In some parts in India, wheat is kept in the Karva (pot) because of wheat sowing season (Rabi crop cycle). On this day women folks observe strict fast for the long life of their husbands along with pray for the peace and prosperity of their entire family.
CONGREGATION TO RELATE THE OLD-TIMES STORIES CONCERNING THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS DAY
The married women sit in a circular form, exchange their metal dishes (thalis) which contain prayer material (Puja samagri) and make-up materials along with a lightened earthen wick etc which is exchanged with other women sitting in the group. The married women also exchange their views on the taboos which are strictly observed during observance of strict fast lest something bad happens to their husbands. Women also relate old-times stories concerning the importance of this festival in the form of songs. These stories highlight the importance of this festival. In other words, this festival signifies the importance of love between husbands and wives – a festival for fostering bond of love between spouses. The main purpose is to showcase with utmost sincerity the importance of a spouse (Husband) in their lives. The songs are sung in the praise of Lord Shiva-Parvati (Shiv-Shakti) and Ganesha with traditional fervor and devotion to earn their bountiful blessings for the well-being of their husbands and in turn their families.
FESTIVAL FOR CONSOLIDATION OF RELATIONSHIP
This festival symbolizes the consolidation of relationship between husband and wife and also with others in the family. Not only in the family, the married women consolidate their bond of friendship with other women in the neighborhood by making the common friends (Sahelis) with whom they exchange their beautification materials such as bangles, bindis, sandoor pot, ribbons etc. This shows the bond of friendship of feminine with not only their husbands but also other members in the household including the neighborhood.
Now-a-days, even the fiancés are observing fasts for their would-be-husbands for the safety and progress.
Karva Chauth is one such occasion on which the ladies observe fast for their men-folks for their wellbeing, pray to God for their longevity besides keeping the tradition which has long been observed in our society. The ladies observe fast without taking anything – means without taking water or any eatable till the fast lasts. This fast is observed very strictly. On this pious day, the ladies put on their best attires with ornaments and pray for their husbands’ long life and good health and wellness. In some cases, the husbands too observe strict fast from morning till it lasts.
ORIGIN OF THE FESTIVAL
On this festival is observed in Northern Part of India. It is believed that the grown up men-folk used to go for military campaigns leaving their families at home. Their wives prayed for their husbands for their return safely.
LEGENDS CONNECTED WITH KARVA CHAUTH
There was a woman named Karva. This woman was loyal to her husband. During bath in a water-body, her husband was caught by crocodile. Karva bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn prayed the Lord of Death Yama to spare her husband and send the Yama to hell for his misdeed. She was so much so devoted to her husband that the Lord of Death had to agree to her entreaties. Such is the effect of fast with purity of mind and soul. Also, it gives credence to the fact that if we perform anything with sincerity and singleness of purpose then we can have mystical results; which we least expect in our lives. On the other hand, if we perform any ritual or keep fast just because others are keeping fast so do we; by so doing, the very purpose of fast gets defeated.
STORIES ABOUND ABOUT OBSERVANCE OF FAST
There was a queen named Veervati. She observed fast while she was at her parents’ house. Due to strict observance of fast, she felt it very hard to be without water. Her seven brothers felt for the life of their sister and created an artificial moon. She took water due to which her husband died. She offered prayers to Lord Shiva and Parvati for restoration of the life of her husband since he died because of the fault of her brothers. With their grace, her husband’s life was restored. Lord Shiva and Lordess Parvati appeared in person to her and advised her to observe fast very strictly.
LEGEND CONNECTED WITH ARJUNA
There is also a legend connected with Arjuna and Draupti of Epic Mahabharta. While Arjuna had gone to the forests for his strict penance, Draupti observed strict fast due to which Arjuna’s task was achieved without much difficulty.
STORY OF SATYAVAN SAVITRI
The story of Satyavan Savitri is well known. She was one of the daughters of a king. She was very pious lady. She remained absorbed in meditation. She was more devoted to God due to which her father thought that she did not love him. He wanted to teach her a lesson. He married other daughters to the most suited grooms and she was married to a poor leper named Satyavan by his king father. Being of poor health he could not survive for more days. When Lord Yama came to get Satyavan’s soul, Savitri requested him to spare his husband’s life. He refused doing so. On that day she had observed a strict fast. While Lord Yama was taking the soul of her husband, she followed him. Finally, Lord Yama, after seeing the steadfast attitude of Savitri, asked her for a boon. She asked for nothing but the life of her husband which was ultimately granted by the God of Death.
OBSERVANCE OF STRICT FAST
The married women observe strict fast from the early morning hours, without taking anything including water. They take fenis (Made of wheat flour) along with some eatable water in the early morning (before sun rise) and subsequently observe fast for the complete day. The sargi is prepared by the mother-in-law. They pray for the safety of their husbands. They wait for till seeing the moon. They see their husband first before seeing the moon through a sieve. Then the husbands help their wives to take some water. The wives pray to the Moon God for the safety of their husbands and pray for their lives and also that they may shine like the Moon.
MARRIAGE AS A SACRED INSTITUTION IS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THIS FESTIVAL
Marriage as an institution functions to its optimum when both the spouses have the intention and inclination for its success. In this, both the spouses are equal partners. If one partner considers other one lowly and inferior then this institution totters and collapses under the weight of its contradictions.
Marriage succeeds on the basis of understanding, compatibility, accommodation, no skepticism of any sort, be sympathetic to the need of other partner, be considerate and sympathetic to the pain of other partner and devising ways and means to alleviate such pain. This pain may be individual one or created due to some other emotional upsurges while performing multifarious functions in the family fabric. This emotional upsurge may also be due to either of the two partners’ parents related or based on some incidence which happened prior to the marriage. In other words, understanding other partner’s viewpoints and being a partner in assuaging, addressing or solving the problem consolidates the foundation of marriage as an institution.
My wife has been observing this festival for the last 41 years and I know how much love and affection we have for each other along with my love ones are having while following all these rituals from morning till late evening. Beya or gift is also given to mother-in-law by the wife and both of them (husband and wife) pray for her (Mother-in-law’s) long life.
PRAYER FOR GOOD WHEAT CROP
The wheat is kept in the earthen pot which coincides with the prayer for good wheat crops.
EXCHANGE OF MAKE-UP MATERIALS BETWEEN MARRIED WOMEN
The women in the evening hours collect in the courtyard and sing the praises of the deity for the safety and prosperity of their husbands. They also exchange gifts mainly the beautification materials or make-up materials (shringar) and other home- made sweets. All the women observing this fast put on their best dresses specially made for this festivals.
While ladies of the household observe the Karva Chauth strict fast as a festival and an annual celebration for the well-being of their spouses, it is in the fitness of things to draw out some lessons from their endurance, conditioning, steadfastness etc.
The married women keep fast, observing all the strict rules of this festival, not only not taking even a grain of food, fruits or even water during the observance of fast, we should all introspect, how much these special creations of our Creator without whom there would not be any continuation of civilization.
Then, why should we not do something tangible so as to empower women and should not take them as a second class citizens as some of us take them to be? Then there are the cases of rapes, maiming, throwing acid on the faces and even killing for not succumbing to their untenable pressure tactics. Special laws should be made in order to aware exemplary punishment for those who take law in their hands and exploit the women folks.
As men and women work for the wellness of their families, it is essential that both enjoy freedom of expression and action without coercion from any quarter. Nothing should be done to browbeat the women folks and slide them in any way.
It has been said that those households who do not treat women honorably and do not pay due respect to them, such homes do not have holistic growth and development. They lack grace of Almighty God. Therefore, the women folks should have their due share of respect in different societies and should not be treated as the playthings to please men-folks.
My sincere prayer to the Almighty God is to bestow all peace and prosperity besides this Holy Day of Karva Chauth may consolidate the bond of relationship between husbands and wives till their entire lives. Lord Ganesha may prove to be a remover of obstacles (Vigan Harta) for all of us.