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Karwa Chauth Legends


Karwa Chauth is the festival that holds a lot of significance for married Hindu women, who keep a fast for the long life of their husband, on this day. Though the basic aim behind the festival remains the same, the particular customs and rituals may vary a bit, depending on the region to which the women belong. Karva chauth has a tremendous social and cultural significance in India. It has a rich background and has several stories related to its existence. Some of the popular stories and legends associated with the festival have been described below

Story Of Queen Veeravati
A beautiful girl Veeravati, the only sister of her seven loving brothers, got married to a king. On her first karwa Chauth, she went to her parents' house and a strict fast, waiting for the moon rise to break it. The seven brothers could not see their loving sister go hungry throughout the day. They decided to end her fast, by reflecting a mirror through peepal tree leaves and making her believe that it is moon. The sister fell for it and broke the fast. The moment she ate food, she got news of her husband's serious illness.

After coming to know that her husband is not well, she rushed to her palace and on her way, met Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It was them that she came to know that her brothers had shown her false moon and made her break her fast before moonrise. The queen asked for forgiveness and was granted the boon that the king would be revived only if she undertakes seven karwa Chauth fast strictly, following all the rituals. The queen agreed and strictly followed all the rituals of karwa Chauth the next seven times and got her husband back.

Other Legends

Legend Of Mahabharata
Karwa Chauth also has a story dating back to the pre-Mahabharata times. Draupadi used to observe this fast after her marriage. It so happened that once Arjun went to the Nilgiris for penance and in his absence, the rest of the Pandavas faced many problems. Draupadi asked Lord Krishna for help. The Lord reminded her about Goddess Parvati, who had sought Lord Shiva's guidance under similar circumstances and was advised to observe the fast of Karva Chauth. Draupadi followed the instructions and observed the fast with all its rituals and the Pandavas were able to overcome their problems.

Legends Of Satyavan and Savitri
Another story related to Karwa Chauth concerns the Satyavan and Savitri. When Lord Yama came to take away Satyavan' s soul, Savitri begged him to spare her husband. He refused to do so. In order to gain back her husband's life, Savitri stopped eating and drinking anything. Finally, Yamraj relented and granted her, her husband's life. And from that day onwards, karwa Chauth has been celebrated with great faith and belief.

Legend Of Karva
Karva was a woman deeply devoted to her husband. It so happened that her husband was caught by a crocodile while bathing. Karva came running and bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn. She then went to Yama and requested him to send the crocodile to hell. She threatened to curse him when Yama refused to do so. Afraid of the power of a devoted wife, Yama accepted and sent the crocodile to hell and blessed Karva's husband with long life.

Karwa Chauth Customs

Karwa Chauth is one of the most awaited festivals of North India, which is celebrated by the married women mainly. On this day, they keep a fast for the long life, well being and prosperity of their husband. Karwa chauth reflects joy, splendor, brightness and happiness of a married life. Thus, things that symbolize and reflect the marital status of a woman, such as jewelry, bangles, henna, bindi, and lehnga choli, are in high demand on this special occasion. The festival also brings people together and provides them an opportunity to socialize with friends and family members, exchange gifts and share home-cooked meals. Let us explore the customs of karva chauth in detail.

Karwa Chauth Rituals & Traditions

The preparations for karva chauth start the day before the festival. Brides get beautifully wrapped baskets with the sargi (the food to be eaten before sunrise) from their mother-in-law. The fasting women of the neighborhood get together before sunrise, to eat the sargi, which mainly consists of thirst-quenching foods, like fruits, along with a main course of potatoes eaten with hot puris (a deep-fried Indian bread). Traditionally, a newly wed woman spends the day before the fast in her mother’s house and comes to her mother-in-law’s house only on the day of karwa chauth.

On karwa chauth, married women wear bright and beautiful clothes, heavy jewelry and bangles. They also get intricate patterns drawn, with henna, on their palms and feet. Traditionally, it is the mother who usually sends baya, which includes sweets, money, clothes and a karva (small earthen pitcher), to their married daughters’ houses. In the evening, the mother-in-law or any elderly women of the house accepts the baya, given to them by the younger married women of the family. Thus, the festival of karva chauth involves not only the married women, but other members of the household as well.

The women of the neighborhood usually gather in someone’s house and perform the puja together, in the evening. A small area is prepared for the ceremony, which can be performed in any part of the house as well as in the open. A small square platform is placed against the wall and kharia matti (powdery mud) is used to cleanse and to decorate the puja area. An idol of Gaur Mata, or Goddess Parvati (the consort of Lord Shiva), is placed on the consecrated spot. Traditionally, the tiny image of Gaur Mata was made from cow dung, though nowadays pictures or idols of Parvati are the norm.

About an hour before moonrise, the women place their bayas and their karvas in a plate and sit around the puja area to pray, while an elderly lady narrates a tale about a young woman who, by an unfortunate twist of fate, was tricked into breaking her fast before moonrise. Her husband dropped dead the very instant his wife broke her fast. Enraged at the deception that led to her husband’s death, the girl implored Gaur Mata to resurrect her husband.

The husband finally came back to life after a period of seven karva chauths. The wife, with her unflinching love for her husband and belief in Goddess Parvati, achieved the ‘impossible’. While the story is read out to everyone, the women exchange their respective karvas, till each one gets her own karva back. During this time, they also chant the following prayer ,which is for the well being of the husband and for marital bliss:

"Addey-addey Krishna pakshe var
Tith Karva Chauth
Manse hain apne suhag ke liye
Yeh karva, mattri, halwa, sari, nagdi
Apne suhag ka liye rani ka sa raj dena
Gaur ka sa suhag dena Shri Krishna nimant."

The puja ends with the women showering rice and vermilion on Parvati and seeking her blessings. The younger women touch the feet of the elders, seek their blessings and offer their baya to them.

Breaking The Fast
In the evening, the women see the moon, while carrying a plate decorated with lit earthen lamps and a container of water. The moon is seen through a fine mesh or sieve. Water is offered to the moon, followed by some food women. Though the women are allowed to break their fast after they see the moon, it is preferred if they can also see the faces of their husbands before they eat or drink. So, the married men scurry back home from work as soon as possible, on this day. Thereafter, the family sits down for a grand meal and the celebration comes to end.

Karwa Chauth Katha

Karwa Chauth is celebrated with gusto by Hindu married women in the north and north western parts of India. It is a special day for them, because they pray for the longevity of their husband and seek blessings of Goddess Gauri to have a blissful married life. Special puja is conducted in the evening by the married women, wherein katha - story or legend associated with the celebration of the festival - is narrated by the elderly woman of the group. After watching the moon rise, the women would have a glimpse of their husband through the same sieve, which they used to watch the moon. Thereafter, they would break their fast by drinking water. In the article, we have given information on Karva Chauth ki kahani.

Karva Chauth Story
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess named Veeravati. She was married to a king at the optimum marriageable age. After tying the wedding knot, she went to meet her parents on Karva Chauth. After sunrise, she observed a very stringent fast on the day, when she didn't drink even a drop of water. Since Veeravati was too delicate to withstand rigorous fasting, she fainted in the evening. The seven beloved brothers of the queen couldn’t stand the dilemma of their sister and decided to break her fast, by deceiving her. They made a fire at the nearby hill and asked her to catch a glimpse of the glow. They made her to believe that it was the glow of the moonlight and now that moon had risen, she could break her fast.

After watching the false moon, Veeravati broke her fast and ate dinner. The moment she ate her food, she received the bad news that her husband was no more. The heartbroken queen rushed to the palace to see her deceased husband. On her way to the palace, she came across Lord Shiva and his significant half - Goddess Parvati (also known as Ma Gauri). Parvati informed Veeravati that the king had died because she had broker her fast by watching a false moon. When the queen asked for mercy, the Goddess granted her the boon that the king would be brought back to life, but would be severely ill.

When the queen reached the palace, she found her husband lying unconscious, with hundreds of sharp needles pierced into his body. Each day, the queen was capable of removing one needle from the king's body. She could remove all the needles except one. By the time, it was next year, on the day of Karva Chauth. The king was still unconscious, with only one needle remaining inserted in his body. On the day, the queen once again observed a stringent fast and went to the market to purchase the karva (pitcher) for the puja. When she was away from the palace to fetch the karva, her maid removed the last needle from the king's body.

The moment Veeravati's maid removed the last needle from the king's body, the king regained consciousness. Ironically, he mistook the maid for his queen. When the real queen returned to the palace, she was made to serve as a maid. Nonetheless, Veeravati was true to her faith and continued to observe the Karwa Chauth vrat. One fine day, when king was going to other kingdom, he asked Veeravati (now turned maid) if she wanted anything. She asked to fetch a pair of identical dolls. While the king was obliged to bring her a pair of dolls, the queen kept singing a song "Roli ki Goli ho gayi.. Goli ki Roli ho gayi" (the queen has turned into maid and the maid has turned into queen).

When asked why she was repeatedly singing the song, she narrated the entire story. The king regretted and wanted to do good for his queen. Consequently, he restored the royal status to Veeravati. It is believed that her immense faith in the Almighty, her love and dedication to her husband had won her husband's affection and the blessings of Goddess Parvati. This is the reason why, every year, Karwa Chauth is celebrated to commemorate the sacrifice and dedication of Veeravati. Every year, on Kartik ki Chauth, married women observe stringent fast, worship Goddess Parvati for a long and pleasurable married life and pray for longevity of their husband.