All of you may know about Karwa Chauth and they celebrations associated with it but, have you ever thought about the origin of this festival? The name Karwa Chauth is formed of two words 'Karwa' and 'Chauth', where Karwa means earthen oil lamp and Chauth means four. The day falls on the fourth day of Kartik month in Hindu calendar. This is also a harvest time of year, where people like to celebrate and meet friends and relatives. This festival also coincides with Diwali celebration, which comes nine days after Karwa Chauth. Although Karwa Chauth was initially celebrated as special bond shared between bride and a woman in her in-laws household, gradually new aspect of celebration emerged out of this ancient custom. Today, it is observed more as an occasion to seek blessings from almighty for the long life and overall well being of one's husband. Even though the original custom of celebrating Karwa Chauth has greatly changed from what it used to be in the past, it still holds relevance to present day meaning of observing fast for the well-being of a husband.
The history of Karwa Chauth dates back to ancient times. It is believed that Karwa Chauth was originally followed as a ritual signifying the relationship between bride and a woman in her- in laws household. In olden days, when bride leaves her parent's house after marriage, she looks out for friendship with another woman in her husband's household to share her emotions and problems. Her friendship with a woman in household is usually solemnized in the marriage ceremony and they are considered as sisters thereafter. They continue to hold this relationship for lifetime. Initially, Karwa Chauth was observed to honor this relationship solemnized between bride and woman in her in-laws household. Gradually, it drifted away from its original meaning and many legendary tales were associated with this festival. Today Karwa Chauth is observed as a day of fasting for all married women for long life of her husband.
There is also wide speculation about how this festival came to be held only in north and north western parts of India. One premise states that Karwa Chauth usually falls in that time of year when folks depart for long-distance journey and even for military assignment. In the Sapta Sindhu region, the areas basically remain dry until the Monsoon is back. So, it is believed that women in that part of region started observing fast for the well being and prolonged life of their husbands who have set on a long journey from home. Secondly, this festivity also falls during wheat sowing period, that is, the onset of Rabi crop season. People used to store wheat in big earthen clay pots which are known as 'Karva'. So, it is believed that the concept of fasting might have started as a wish for reaping good harvest in this wheat sowing region.
Whatever the history have to say, Karwa Chauth is now celebrated with great pomp and is considered as a very auspicious occasion for women—both married and committed. This festival reinforces the bond of love between husband-wife duos and hence, is special for every married individual.
Determination of date
Karva Chauth is celebrated on Kartik Krishna Chaturthi falling at Chandrodaya (rise of Moon). If Chaturthi falls on two days but does not fall during Chandrodaya then it is celebrated on second day otherwise on the first day.
How to Celebrate
The day of Karva Chauth is celebrated mostly amongst the entire North Indian community settled either in India and other parts of the world. The most important aspect of this day is that a dawn to dusk fast is undertaken by the North Indian ladies and seeing the moon they finally break the fast. The Karva Chauth fast is unique perhaps because nowhere in the world does a wife go without food or water just to pray for the longevity and well-being of her husband.
In modern day, with all the trappings of commercialization attached, Karva Chauth, the big fasting day has turned into a full-fledged event. The event is growing bigger with each passing day. Karva Chauth celebrations promise to grow bigger with each passing year. The Halwais, the Mehendi and Churiwallis have traditionally been busy on this auspicious day. But joining the bandwagon in recent times are the beauty parlour owners, the event managers and the restaurant owners.
Karva Chauth special eateries are gearing up for now. Cashing in on the popularity of 'eating out' most restaurants have special menus for this special day. No wonder almost every happening-eating joint around town is offering plenty of attractive options to choose from. Various clubs organize special events on this festive day with various stalls, bumper Tambola and even a dance competition. With so much feasting and fun added to it, fasting had never been so good before.