Karwa Chauth is celebrated by most married women in the northern parts of India when they fast for the well being and long life of their husbands. It is kept on the fourth (chauth) day of Kartik month by the lunar calendar. This year it falls on October 15th. With bollywood creating awareness and glorifying the fun associated with the festival it is now popular in other parts of India as well.
Karwa chauth is a festival all about women and there are different theories on why we celebrate it. I will share the version that I personally experienced to be true.
Back in the day girls were married at a very young age and there were no phones and emails to connect to their moms, sisters and friends. The festivities around karwa chauth would give them a feeling of sisterhood and life long friends in their new surroundings. Although I was married in the age of internet, I still appreciate that first chance of connecting to my peers and making those everlasting friends. We shopped together for clothes, jewelry and bangles and the night before decorate each others palms with mehndi (henna).
On that day, just before sunrise we eat Sargi, a meal prepared by mom-in-law mostly sweets and milk to energize ourselves for the long day. At day break the Nirjal( no water ) fast begins. Along with puri, cholle and dahi vada I like to cook my husband’s favorite moong daal halwa. Sweet mathri is the traditional sweet that is cooked on Karwa Chauth.
In the evening we gather together all dressed up and recite the story of ‘Veeravati’, the girl who fought with the gods and compelled them to put life back in her husband’s body. Then I gift the bayna to my mom-in-law. I usually do cash because it’s easy to take back to India but traditionally it is supposed to be a gift basket of food that is cooked and things that she might like.
After the puja it’s time for chitchat and the wait for moon begins. At moon rise, after a peek at the moon it’s time for husbands to give their wives first sip of water for the day and dinner.