Karva Chauth is an annual one-day festival celebrated by Hindu women in which married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands.The festival falls on the fourth day after the full moon, in the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Kartik. Sometimes, unmarried women observe the fast for their fiances or desired husbands.
Karva is another word for diya (a small earthen oil-lamp) and chauth means ‘fourth’ in Hindi (a reference to the fact that the festival falls on the fourth day of the dark-fortnight, or Krishna paksh, of the month of Kartik).
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. In some tellings the tales are interlinked, with one tale acting as a frame story for another.
Women begin preparing for Karva Chauth a few days in advance, by buying cosmetics (shringar), traditional adornments or jewelry, and puja items, such as the karwa lamps, matthi, henna and the decorated puja thali (plate).
On the day of the fast, women from Punjab awake to eat and drink just before sunrise. In Punjab, sargi is an important part of this pre-dawn meal, and always includes fenia. It is traditional for the sargi to be sent or given to the woman by her mother-in-law. The fast begins with dawn.
Fasting women do not eat during the day, and some additionally do not drink any water either. The day passes in meeting friends and relatives. In some regions, it is customary to gift and exchange painted clay pots filled with put bangles, ribbons, home-made candy, cosmetics and small cloth items (e.g. handkerchiefs).
In modern North Indian society, Karva Chauth is considered to be a romantic festival, symbolizing the love between a husband and wife.
First Sargi :
Mother-in-law prepares an elaborate Sargi (the pre-dawn Karva Chauth meal) when her daughter-in-law observes her first fast. She wakes up much early to prepare a sumptuous and lavish meal inclusive of sweets and other delicacies for daughter-in-law.
Baya is a gift given to a daughter’s mother-in-law on the occasion of Karva Chauth. It usually consists of salted mathris, dry-fruits and some gifts. This Baya is a little more special when the daughter is observing her first Karva Chauth.