India is a land of varying cultures and the rich cultural heritage of India in clearly depicted in the numerous festivals of the country. India is often termed as the “Land of Festivals”. There are festivals for every season and every state during which people all over the country indulge in the zeal and festivities of the events. All the festivals and celebrations depict the cultural unity and integrity of the country. During the festivals, people take part in the ceremonies and rituals irrespective of their caste, creed, age and status.
Karwa Chauth is however a Hindu festival that is meant only for the married women. The rituals of Karwa Chauth are performed on the Chaturthi Tithi or the fourth day after the full moon. The exact dates of the ceremony are fixed by the Hindu calendar. Approximately it takes place at the end of October on in early November. The one day festival of Karwa Chauth is a traditional Hindu and Barelvi festival that is performed mostly in the northern Indian states and in some parts of the country of Pakistan. The rituals include fasting for the married women for a whole day to pray for the long lives of their husbands. They would only have food after the moon comes out and then being blessed by their husbands. The Karwa Chauth is also related to the festivals of Dusherra and Diwali.
The festival owes its origin to a number of ancient legends. It is said that Karva was married woman in the ancient times who was deply devoted to her husband. Once when her husband was bitten by a crocodile, she threatened Yama, the God of death for her husband’s life. In fear of being cursed yama sent the crocodile to hell and blessed her husband with long live and thereafter they lived happily for many long years. The story symbolizes the powr of a womans will and the power of her love for her Husband. The ceremony of Karva Chauth is thus held in memory of the supreme devotion and divine love of Karva for her husband. Another story related to the festival that when the Muslims invaded India, many Hindus were forced to convert their religion. Then in order to save the widowed women from the Muslims, the Hindus stated the “Sati Pratha” in which a wife was compelled to give her life on the pier of her husband when they died. It was during then that the Hindu women started the rituals of Karva Chauth to pray for the long lives of their husband in order to save them and also their own lives. Many other legends are also related to the festival of Karva Chauth such as the story of Savitri and satyavan and the legend of Queen Viravati.
Whatever may be the cause; the festival symbolizes the divine love and devotion of the Hindu women toward their husband and depicts the power of their sacrifices for the long lives of their husbands.