MARRIAGE, a sacred union between two individuals that sometimes undergoes numerous challenges and changes, always needs a little tender loving care and attention. As per Vastu, astrology and Hinduism, there are many types of fasts, rituals and special tips to make marriages strong. There is one very powerful fast, followed religiously by married women in Northern India, that is called Karva Chauth, to strengthen this precious bond. According to the Hindu calendar, this beautiful festival is celebrated on the fourth day of the waning moon in the Hindu month of Kartik. This year it will be celebrated today. Karva Chauth is considered to be one of the most important festivals for married women. Due to its popularity in Bollywood and soap operas, it is fast becoming practised in all parts of India and the world. During this festival, women pray for a happy marriage, family, prosperity and the longevity of their husbands. As husbands sometimes have a tendency to take their wives for granted, it also reminds them about the important role their wives play in their life. Karva Chauth traditions and celebrations: Pre-celebrations for the festival include applying henna or mehandi. On the day of the festival, married women wake up before the sun rises, cover their heads with a pink or red duppatta (scarf) and pray for the prosperity and long lives of their husbands. Another important part of the Karva Chauth celebrations is dressing up as a bride for the festival. All the married women wear traditional dresses (usually shades of red, pink, maroon and saffron) and other symbols like a nose ring, tika, bindi, bangles for earrings to look like a bride. Karva Chauth rituals: Fasting is the most important part of the Karva Chauth celebrations. It’s the most difficult fast observed by Hindu married women. It begins from sunrise and ends only after offering prayers and worshipping the moon at night. No food or water can be taken after sunrise. The fast is broken once the moon is sighted. On this day, women fast throughout the day for the longevity of their husbands and also for marital bliss. They take a break from their daily household chores. In the evening, women prepare for their prayer by decorating their thali and adorning themselves in traditional dresses like saris, lehengas or salwar kameez and worship Mother Gauri for family prosperity. Special ritual at moon rise: After the prayer is over, women wait for the moon to rise so that they can end their fasts. Once the moon is sighted, women carry their prayer thali and a sieve. They look at the moon through this sieve and offer rice and water to the moon, praying for the long life of their husband and family prosperity, after which they break their fast by drinking water. Once the fast is broken, sweets are eaten to celebrate the successful culmination of the fast and then they enjoy a meal. Legends: There are many legends and stories associated with Karwa Chauth. In short, there were three married women from different eras who were deeply devoted to their husbands. Their names were Queen Veeravati, Savitri and Karva. Once their husbands were on their death-beds, these Spiritual Shakti (wives), with their power and fasting, were able to bring back their husbands from the Yamaraja (the lord of death). Astro advice:
- A special note for husbands: it’s nice to give your wife the first bite of food from your hand once she breaks her fast. Thereafter, you should also give a nice gift or bouquet of flowers. This simple act can strengthen this special relationship.
- An easy way to keep your fast is to get up a little early, around 4am, and eat and drink sufficiently before sunrise, then fast until the moon rises on this day. This will enable one to maintain the fast easily.
- To create more harmony with your mother-in-law, have this meal prepared by her and take her blessings by touching her feet.
- It is extremely important for the first year of any newly-married couple to follow this fast.
- Fragile, sick and pregnant women are not encouraged to fast.
- These days, many keep a grainless fast (having fruits, milk etc). Only after 6pm, they do not eat and drink until the moon rises.
- If the moon is not visible due to weather conditions, then you can break the fast after 11pm.
- On applying mehandi, try to put on the initials of your husband. This will keep him attentive towards you.
- Try to follow as many parts of this ritual as possible to have a happy married life.