Karva Chauth Festival in India Date in the current year: October 20, 2024

Karva Chauth Festival in India Karva Chauth is a traditional Hindu festival celebrated by married women in North India. It takes place four days after the full moon (purnima) in the month of Kartika. Karva Chauth is an official holiday in the state of Himachal Pradesh, but only for female employees.

Unlike many other Hindu festivals celebrated throughout the country, Karva Chauth is observed only in North India (the states of Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh). However, other regions have similar festivals: Atla Taddi is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on the third night after the full moon in the month of Ashwin, and Bhar and Odisha have Savitri Brata, observed on the new moon day in the month of Jyeshtha.

Karva Chauth is a celebration of women’s devotion to their husbands. According to one of the legends about the origins of the festival, once there lived a woman named Karva. She was so devoted to her husband that it gave her special spiritual power (shakti). One day, her husband was caught by a crocodile while bathing in a river. Karva used cotton yarn to bound the beast and asked Yama, the deity of death and the underworld, to send it to hell.

When Yama refused, she threatened to curse him. Since being cursed by a devoted wive (pati-vrat) was a grave threat even to a god, Yama agreed to send the crocodile to the underworld and blessed the couple with a long life.

The main tradition of the Karva Chautch festival is a day-long fast observed by married women from sunrise until moonrise for the longevity of their husbands. It is meant to symbolize their love, devotion and willingness to endure hardships in the name of a happy marriage. In some parts of North India, women have their last meal the night before the fast. But in Punjab, they wake up for a special pre-dawn meal, which is often prepared and served or sent by the mother-in-law.

Traditionally, fasting women do not do any housework during the day. Instead, spend the day with their relatives and female friends, because Karva Chauth is also considered to be a celebration of female friendships. This interpretation stems from an old tradition. With arranged marriages being prevalent in India, the newlywed wife was expected to move in with her husband’s family. Since she was new to the area and didn’t know anyone, the custom arose of befriending another woman for life so that they could be there for each other.

The new wife’s friend would typically be a married woman of about the same age and not directly related to her in-laws (to avoid possible conflict of interest). The friendship would be sanctified at the wedding, and the emotional bond between the women would be treated as a blood relationship. Over time, the Karva Chauth festival has evolved to celebrate this special kind of female friendship.

On the day of the festival, women apply henna to their hands and feet, wear their best clothes, visit their friends and exchange small gifts with them. In many communities, women gather for special ceremonies that involve praying, singing, storytelling, and various rituals. Once the sun sets and the moon rises, husbands offer water to their wives to break the fast.

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Karva Chauth, Hindu festival, festivals in India, holidays in India, folk festivals, cultural observances