ॐ सांई राम
जग अनंत, बदले नहीं
सत्य सिद्ध यह सार
इसी तरह साईं प्रभु की
माया बड़ी अपार
… कौन रहे मात-पिता
ज्ञात ना जनम दिनांक
जन्म, उम्र साईं प्रभु की
अनुमान से आंक.
बाबा को जानने के लिए इन संदेशो को निरंतर पढ़े.
Etymology and origins
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).
It is uncertain how the festival originated and how it came to be celebrated only in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. One hypothesis is that military campaigns and long-distance travel usually resumed around the time of the festival, as the area dried and numerous rivers of the region (see: Sapta Sindhu) subsided from the effects of the monsoon. Women observed the fast to pray for the safety of their husbands at this time as they ventured away from home. The festival also coincides with the wheat-sowing time (i.e. the beginning of the Rabi crop cycle). Big earthen pots in which wheat is stored are also sometimes called karvas, so the fast may also have begun as a prayer for a good harvest in this predominantly wheat-eating region.
The RitualsWomen 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). Local bazaars take on a festive look as shopkeepers put their Karva Chauth related products on display. On the day of the fast, women from Punjab awake to eat and drink just before sunrise. In Uttar Pradesh, women eat soot feni with milk in sugar on the eve of the festival. It is said that this helps them go without water the next day. In Punjab, sargi (ਸਰਗੀ) 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. If the mother-in-law lives with the woman, the pre-dawn meal is prepared by the 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. In traditional observances of the fast, the fasting woman does no housework. Women apply henna and other cosmetics to themselves and each other. 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). Since Karva Chauth follows soon after the Kharif crop harvest in the rural areas, it is a good time for community festivities and gift exchanges. Parents often send gifts to their married daughters and their children.
In the evening, a community women-only ceremony is held. Women dress in fine clothing and wear jewellery and henna, and (in some regions) dress in the complete finery of their wedding dresses. The dresses (saris or shalwars) are frequently red, gold or orange in color, which are considered auspicious colors. In Uttar Pradesh, women wear Saris or lehangas. Women sit in a circle with their puja thalis. Depending on region and community, a version of the story of Karva Chauth is narrated, with regular pauses. The storyteller is usually an older woman or a priest, if one is present. In the pauses, the Karva Chauth puja song is sung collectively by the women as they perform the feris (passing their thalis around in the circle). In Punjabi communities, the Karva Chauth song is sung seven times, the first six of which describe some of the activities that are taboo during the fast and the seventh describes the lifting of those restrictions with the conclusion of the fast. The forbidden activities include weaving cloth (kumbh chrakhra feri naa), pleading with or attempting to please anyone (ruthda maniyen naa), and awakening anyone who is asleep (suthra jagayeen naa).
For the first six feris they sing -
“ …Veero kudiye karvara, Sarv suhagan karvara, Aye katti naya teri naa, Kumbh chrakhra feri naa, Aar pair payeen naa, Ruthda maniyen naa, Suthra jagayeen naa, Ve veero kuriye karvara, Ve sarv suhagan karvara.”
For the seventh feri, they sing -
“ …Veero kudiye karvara, Sarv suhagan karvara, Aye katti naya teri nee, Kumbh chrakhra feri bhee, Aar pair payeen bhee, Ruthda maniyen bhee, Suthra jagayeen bhee, Ve veero kuriye karvara, Ve sarv suhagan karvara… ”
In Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the women exchange karvas seven times between themselves. In Rajasthan, before offering water seven times the fasting woman is asked “Dhai?”, to which she responds, “Suhaag na Dhai”. In Rajasthan, stories are told by older women in the family, including narratives of Karva Chauth, Shiv, Parvati and Ganesh. In earlier times, an idol of Gaur Mata was made using earth and cow dung, which has now been replaced with an idol of Parvati. Each fasting woman lights an earthen lamp in her thali while listening to the Karva story. Sindoor, incense sticks and rice are also kept in the thali.
In Uttar Pradesh, a priest or an elderly woman of the family narrates the story of beejabeti or Veervati. Women make Gauri, Ganesh and Shankar idols with mud and decorate them with colourful and bright clothes and jewellery. While exhanging Karvas seven times, they sing -
“ ..Sadaa suhagan karve lo, Pati ki pyari karve lo, Saat bhaiyon ke behen karve lo, Vart karni karve lo, Saas ki pyaari karve lo,… ”
Thereafter, the women offer baayna(a melange of goodies like halwa, puri, namkeen mathri, meethi mathri, etc.) to the idols (mansana) and hand over to their mother-in-law or sister-in-law.
The fera ceremony concluded, the women await the rising of the moon. Once the moon is visible, depending on the region and community, it is customary for a fasting woman, with her husband nearby, to view its reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve, or through the cloth of a dupatta. Water is offered (arka) to the moon (som or chandra, the lunar deity) to secure its blessings. She then turns to her husband and views his face indirectly in the same manner. In some regions, the woman says a brief prayer asking for her husband’s life. It is believed that at this stage, spiritually strengthened by her fast, the fasting woman can successfully confront and defeat death (personified by Yama). In Rajasthan the women say “Like the gold necklace and the pearl bracelet, just like the moon may my suhaag always shine brightly”.
The husband now takes the water from the thali and gives his wife her first sip and feeds her with the first morsel of the day (usually something sweet). The fast is now broken, and the woman has a complete meal. It is customary for the husband to make a gift to his wife, such as jewelry or a new dress.
Popular cultural aspects and critiquesIn modern North Indian society, Karva Chauth is considered to be a romantic festival, symbolizing the love between a husband and wife. It has been celebrated in Bollywood movies such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, where an unmarried woman signals her love for a man by keeping the fast for him and he reciprocates by secretly fasting as a gesture of empathy, as well as demonstrating his concern for her during the day and breaking her fast by feeding her at moonrise, and Baghban, in which a man persuades his elderly fasting wife to break her fast over the telephone because they have been separated by their uncaring children. News coverage of celebrities sometimes highlights the keeping of the fast by an unmarried female public figure because it indicates a strong and likely-permanent romantic attachment. Similar to Valentine’s Day, the lack of a romantic partner can acutely be felt by unattached women. The festival is used extensively in advertising campaigns in the region, for instance in a Chevrolet TV spot in which a man demonstrates his caring for his wife by buying a car with a sunroof so he can drive her around on Karva Chauth night until she spots the moon through it.
Since Karva Chauth is celebrated primarily by women (men are entirely excluded from the festival’s observances until moonrise, though they are expected to demonstrate attention and concern for their fasting wives) and because beauty rituals and dressing-up are a significant part of the day, the festival is seen as an event that bonds women together. In the present day, groups of unmarried women sometimes also keep the fast together out of a sense of friendship, though this practice is far from universal. This is especially true in the urban areas of North India and is interpreted as a prayer for a loving husband in the future. Another trend in the northern urban areas is the spreading of the festival’s observance to women originating in communities and regions (such as Bihar, Bengal and Maharashtra) that have not traditionally celebrated Karva Chauth or even been aware of the festival’s existence.
The festival has been criticized as being inherently sexist because there is no reciprocal fasting by males. There have been calls to modify or eliminate the festival by commentators who hold it to be “anti-women” and to “perpetuate the notion of women’s dependence on men.” Karva chauth has been cited as a symbol of cultural repression of women by some Indian feminists, such as Madhu Kishwar who has put it in the same class as “Khomeinivad” (i.e. pushing women into position of subservience to their husbands, similar to the family structure allegedly favored by Ayatollah Khomeini). Other feminists, however, have called the festival empowering for women because Karva Chauth enables them to quit housework completely for the day and expect gifts from their husbands. Some writers have asserted that such “rituals work insidiously” to create a “an instrument of social control” that oppresses women, and that the even greater popularity of Karva Chauth among urban, educated women raises the question of “which is the greater barrier to women’s liberation: religion or the market.”