16 Oct : The fast of Karva Chauth is of particular importance to Hindu women as they believe it ensures the well-being, prosperity and longevity of their husbands. The origin of this festival was based on a very sweet and noble idea. Though this idea has lost its true sense as today the whole outlook of this festival has changed. Long time back, girls used to get married at a very early stage, and had to go and live with their in-laws in other villages. If she had any problems with her husband or in-laws, she would have no one to talk to or seek support from. Her own parents and relatives would be quite far and unreachable. There used to be no telephones, buses and trains long ago.Thus the custom started that, at the time of marriage, when bride would reach her in-laws, she would befriend another woman there who would be her friend or sister for life. It would be like god-friends or god-sisters. Their friendship would be sanctified through a small Hindu ceremony right during the marriage. Once the bride and this woman had become god-friends or god-sisters, they would remain so all their lives and recognize the relation as such. They would also treat each other like real sisters.
During any difficulty later in life, involving even the husband or in-laws, these women would be able to confidently talk or seek help from each other. Thus Karva Chauth started as a festival to celebrate this friendship (relationship) between the once-brides and their god-friends (god-sisters). Praying and fasting for the sake of husband came later and is secondary. It was probably added, along with other mythical tales, to enhance the festival. In any case, husband would always be associated with this festival, because the day of starting this holy friendship between two god-sisters was essentially the day of bride’s marriage to him. Thus praying and fasting for him by his wife during a celebration of her relationship with the god-friend would be quite logical.
Thus, originally Karva Chauth is once a year festival to renew and celebrate the relationship between god-friends (god-sisters). It had a tremendous social and cultural significance once when world lacked the ways to communicate and move around easily.
The festival of Karva Chauth was emerged as a day to celebrate the season of autumn and enjoy the company of friends and relatives. But later on, many mythological legends were added to give it a religious touch. This festival is glorified and widely solemnized by the Hindus and Sikh of north-western India. As the name signifies, Karva meaning a clay pot and chauth corresponding to the fourth, this festival is commemorated on the the fourth day after the Full Moon in Kartik month of Hindu calendar.
A few days before Karva Chauth, married women buy new karvas, the spherical clay pots and paint them on the outside with beautiful designs. Inside the pot, they put bangles and ribbons, home-made candy and sweets, make-up items and small clothes e.g. handkerchief. The women then visit each other on the day of Karva Chauth or immediately afterward, and exchange these karvas. Season-wise, soon after the harvest, it is an excellent time to enjoy festivities, meet one another and exchange gifts. During the time of Karva Chauth, parents send gifts to married daughters and their children.
Usually, falling in the month of October, Karvachauth is celebrated midst harvesting of summer crops. Apart from the fast, kept by married woman for the long life of their husbands, people like to remember and meet their relatives and friends, and exchange gifts with them. Thus, Karva Chauth is very much a social and seasonal festival as it is a religious affair.