karwa chauth is one of the most important fast kept by women in north india for the well being and long life of their husband. the word karwa means diya (small earthen lamp or a pitcher or pot) and chauth means fourth… since it falls on the 4th day after the full moon in the kartik month. it falls about nine days before diwali in month of Oct or Nov. this year karwa chauth fast is on 19th Oct 2016.
this is one of the most difficult fast to be observed as it starts before sunrise and ends after worshipping the moon in the night. usually its end around 8-9 pm. because generally the sky will be cloudy or you won’t be able to see the moon clearly. during this phase of fast you cannot eat or drink water. so it is the real test of patience, self determination and your control on hunger and thirst.
the fast is very rigorous but it sets the situation, where you can intensely pray for the well being of your partner. so my sincere suggestion is that remember parvati ma as much as on this day and pray to her for the well being of your partner and for a happy married life.
as the fast is glorified in bollywood movies so it has become more popular. husband can also keep this fast for their wife well being and long life. some husband actually keep this fast nowadays. if the engagement ceremony is already done then unmarried girls can also keep karwa chauth vrat. but unmarried girls are not supposed to keep this vrat.
karwa chauth fast preparation and sargi:
(saragi is mostly done in punjabi families)
1. women get up very early in the morning and wear their best clothes after taking bath (but not head bath). then they eat sargai. husband also join the wife in eating the sargai or sargi.
2. sargi is given by the mother in law which includes mathri, coconut (must), milk, sherbet, tea/coffee, fruits like banana, apple, oranges, singhara etc and sweets or as per your wish. usually dish made from pheni and milk is also part of sargi. usually the care is taken that the food is filling and thirst quenching. this is because you won’t be able to eat till night. so women usually eat aloo poori, or parathas or rotis with sabzi/curry or any other heavy meal. they also drink lots and lots of water or sherbet etc.
3. money is also given by the mother in law one day in advance so that the daughter in law can purchase cosmetics or shringar item like bindi, bangles, lipstick, mehendi, chunri, hair band or clothes etc. if the mother in law is not staying with you, then she can send money to you in advance and then using this money you should buy the cosmetics.
4. before eating sargi the daughter in law will touch 7 items which she has decided that she is going to offer/donate to the panditani (religious lady or priestess) in the evening after doing karwa chauth group pooja. so just touch the 7 items and then you can eat sargi. these 7 items usually are fruits, cashews/badams (dry fruits), mehendi, mathri, coconut and money (as per your capacity or wish).
5. before eating sargi, put bindi and take red color chunri on your head. head bath is taken one day before the karwa chauth vrat in evening and the head is kept clean (sucha in punjabi language).
6. while having sargi, first eat the sweets or dish made from pheni and milk. it is to start the day with something sweet or on a positive note (in the hope that this day will bring more happiness in your married life). after this you can eat coconut and then main course meal. the coconut is usually broken by the husband who also join the wife in early morning meal. i repeat again, do eat a lot and drink lot of water. because as per tradition, you are not supposed to drink water or eat food after sun rises (or once the stars have set) and till the time you worship moon in the night.
7. daughter in law also offer clothes and dry fruits like badam or cashews to her in laws after the karwa chauth fast is over (this is called as baya and is explained later in the post).
rules for keeping karwa chauth fast:
1. onion and garlic are strictly not eaten on this day even after breaking the vrat. so don’t prepare any meal with onion and garlic.
2. women dress up in their best clothes. some women also wear the dress which they wore on wedding day. mostly red, orange, golden or bright color clothes or sari is worn. do not wear black or white color clothes as these colors are not considered auspicious for this occasion. usually bright color sari or ghagra choli is worn.
3. women are not supposed to do any household work on this day. women are supposed to apply heena or mehndi and dress up in their best clothes and do make up. so many ladies visit beauty parlour on this day.
4. don’t weave or stitch any cloth.
5. don’t go to fields (agricultural farm).
6. don’t wake up any person who is sleeping.
7. don’t try to please someone with whom you have or had a conflict or fight. (point 4 to 7 are mentioned in the song which is sung during first 6 rotation of thali in evening group pooja).
karwa chauth vrat group pooja in evening:
1. some people also worship lord shiva and parvati ma in the morning. but in our home, we only worship parvati maa in the form of gauri maa, in the group pooja which is done in the evening around 4-5 pm.
2. baya – before the sunset, all ladies from the locality gather in one place for the group pooja. in their thali they bring the items like mathri, sweets, fruits, sari and clothes. these items are called as baya are meant for the in-laws. baya items are bought from the money the daughter in law has received from her mother or father. if they stay close by, then they can send the baya in a basket (care should be taken that baya should reach the girl house before this evening pooja). but nowadays since families are spread all over the country, so daughter in law buy baya items from the money send by her parents.
3. apart from baya item there are other things in the thali which includes one diya with mustard oil, sindhur, surma and all the 7 items which you have kept in the morning meant for priestess (panditani). also bring one glass (lotta) of water (this is the same water which will be offered to moon in the night during worship). in the water, rice grains and sugar is also added. also tie a mauli (red string) around the lotta.
4. before the sun sets, all the ladies in the locality assemble in a place or room where the pooja arrangement has been made already. the room is cleaned before and gauri ma image is kept on a decorated platform against the wall. in the old days, this image used to be made from cow dung.
5. all the ladies sit around the gauri mata image with their items, water and baya. gauri mata worship is done by the whole group. all the ladies put surma, lipstick, sindhur to the gaura mata. its like doing shingar to gauri mata. three times they dip the third finger of the right hand in the water and then with the help of thumb they sprinkle the water on the image of gauri mata. lastly, rice is also showered on the gauri mata. all the ladies, doing pooja also apply the roli teeka on their foreheads and the hair parting (maang).
6. after this all ladies take some rice in the hand and listen to the karwa chauth story. one elderly lady or panditani tells karwa chauth katha or story. even a widow can tell this story. 7 times the thali containing the baya is rotated. while rotating thali a song is also sung.
karwa chauth song:
for first six rotation or feri the song is “veero kudiye karwara, sarv suhagan karwara, aye katti naya teri naa, kumbh chrakhra feri naa, aar pair payeen naa, ruthda maniyen naa, suthra jagayeen naa, ve veero kuriye karwara, ve sarv suhagan karwara”
after every rotation, once the thali comes back, then it is first kissed and then kept it along with lotta/glass containing water.
and for the 7th thali rotation the song is “veero kudiye karwara, sarv suhagan karwara, aye katti naya teri nee, kumbh chrakhra feri bhee, aar pair payeen bhee, ruthda maniyen bhee, suthra jagayeen bhee, ve veero kuriye karwara, ve sarv suhagan karwara”
6. the gauri maa pooja is to pray for the long life and well being of your husband.
7. you can offer the 7 items (which you have touched in the morning before eating sargi) to the panditani or religious lady in this pooja after hearing the karwa chauth katha.
8. in some families, after the group pooja is done then it is allowed to drink cup of tea or cold drink (but not both). i think, this could be the modern day alteration to make this fast little easier. people say that whatever drink you choose to have after gauri ma pooja in evening on your first karwa chauth, the same drink you can have rest of your life while keeping karwa chauth vrat.
9. baya items which are worshipped (this is called as manasna which means which are given and will never be taken back) with the help of panditani or priestess is later given to mother in law and father in law after breaking the fast in the night.
how karwa chauth vrat or fast is observed:
(here, i am explaining the ritual which we follow at our home – punjabi style.)
1. when the moon is visible (which is usually late on this day as many times it is clouded) then we prepare a thali. make one diya using the atta or whole wheat flour, add some mustard oil into it and lit the diya using the cotton wick. also keep mathri and take water in a lotta in the plate. this is same water which you have taken with you for the evening pooja of gauri ma.
2. take the red color chunri on your head. remove your sleepers and keep one wooden stick or piece below your feet. in a sieve/chhanni, place this lit diya. the woman see the moon indirectly via the sieve (don’t see the moon directly).
3. at our home, we repeat the below line 3-4 times while seeing the moon indirectly via sieve.
“haath khari phair chari main suhagun arg den khari” (which means, my hands are spread, i am standing with a wooden stick below my feet and i am a married woman standing here to offer water to you”.
( translation: haath (hands), khari (standing or spread), phair (feets), chari (wooden stick or piece), suhagun (married lady), arg (water), den (to give), khari (standing).
4. after saying the above lines 3-4 times, throw the lit diya backwards. then you should see the moon directly and pour water downwards in the direction of moon… throw 5-6 mathri pieces also downwards in the direction of moon… empty the entire water from the glass/lotta… don’t drink this water at all.
5. then see your husband through the sieve/chhanni. many women also touch the feet of their husband at this stage. at this point you can also internally pray to parvati ma for the well being and long life of your husband.
6. now the husband should offer water and mathri to you for breaking the fast. after this, the woman can take blessings from all the elders of the family. at this time the baya should also be given to the in-laws or to the elder member of the family. now the dinner can be taken. but onion and garlic cannot be used for last meal of day also.
we hope that everyone has a fulfilled karwa chauth and this fast adds more love, understanding and harmony into the marriage.