Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth is an annual one-day festival that honors the Hindu god Shiva and goddess Parvati. It occurs on the fourth day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Kartik, which is usually in October.

Goddess Parvati & Lord Shiva

This festival honors the Hindu god Shiva and goddess Parvati.

©iStockphoto.com/kolluru ashok

What Do People Do?

Many married Hindu women begin a long and strict fast before sunrise and end after worshipping the Moon. They often wake up early in the morning, wear new and festive attire, and apply henna and other cosmetics to themselves. Karwa Chauth is an occasion where people gather and socialize with friends and family, exchange gifts and share home-cooked meals. It is a time for mothers to bless their married daughters and give them gifts. Unfortunately, virgins and widows are not allowed to participate in the celebrations.

In the evening, a community women-only ceremony is held where women wear their best clothing and jewelry, and some in their wedding dresses. The women sit in a circle with their puja thalis and a version of the story of Karva Chauth is narrated with occasional pauses for singing. When the ceremony is complete, many wait for the Moonrise and then view its reflection in a vessel filled with water with their husband.

Public Life

Karwa Chauth is not a public holiday in India but is mostly observed in North India and in parts of Pakistan. It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Background

Karwa Chauth is an important festival to all Hindu married women because they believe that it will ensure prosperity, longevity, and the well-being of their husbands. There are many legends that are associated with Karwa Chauth but all contain the underlying concept that if a woman observes the fast of Karwa Chauth, they will be able to overcome their problems and ensure the safety and well-being of their husbands.

Symbols

Henna application is an old tradition that symbolizes luck and prosperity. It is believed that if a woman gets dark color from the henna, she will receive a lot of love and caring from her groom. The gift exchanges reflect the joy and happiness of a married life.