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Hindu Festival: Karva Chauth

In India and Nepal, Hindu married women observe a fast on Lord Krishna Chaturthi ol Kartik (October-November) for the welfare of the husband, his health and long life. This traditional fast bestows happiness and well being of the children too. According to a belief, on this day Sateyvan, who had died at an early age was restored to life by God Yama, at the lamentations and impressive arguing of Savitri, Sateyvan’s wife. In some places, Siva and Parvati are worshipped on this day. The only aim of this fast is to save the husband from an untimely death and have a long married life.

After ablution and other daily necessities, and after taking bath in the early morning, before sunrise, women should undertake a vow for welfare of the husband, sons and grandsons. Siva, Parvati, Kartikkeye, Ganesa and the moon (Chandrama) are worshipped. Their blessings are invoked. After worship, rice, black gram pulse auspicious articles viz. comb, mirror, vermilion, bangles, ribbon, etc. are put on a copper plate or on an earthen plate, along with fruits and kept ready till the fast is broken, after seeing the moon. This fast has to be observed without even taking water. In the evening, all married women, dressed in gorgeous wedding garments and jewellery, undertake worship. As the moon rises, they bow down at the feet of the their husbands and give the decorated plate with fruit and other material to their mother-in law. This festival deepens the relation between the wife, the husband and the mother in law.

In a legend in the Mahabharata, once Arjun went for worship in Nilgiri Hills. Draopadi, believing that there was none to protect her in the horror stricken forest, invoked Lord Krishna. On the appearance of Lord Krishna, Draopadi explained her problem. Lord Krishna explained that once Parvati had expressed such a suspicion before Siva. The latter had then said that for a housewife, the fast on Kartik Lord Krishna Chaturthi was a remedy for such apprehensions.

Lord Krishna further told Draopadi that once upon a time, there was a Brahmin, who had seven sons and one daughter. Being the only daughter she was married with great pomp and show. On the Karva Chauth day, she undertook the fast, but before the rise of moon she felt hungry. Seeing the pathetic condition of their only sister, the loving brothers asked her to break the fast, but she did not agree. Then the brothers reflected a mirror through Pipal tree leaves. The sister, taken it as moon rise, broke the fast and took food. Surprisingly her husband died. The daughter started crying.

Per chance, Indrani, the sister of Indra, was passing by with her maids. Hearing the cries, she came to the weeping woman and asked her tale of woo. Then she advised her that she should undertake the fast on every fourth day of the month, for one year and undertake the Karva Chauth fast under strict ritual, then only her husband would come to life. Doing so, the daughter relivened her husband. Narrating this story, Lord Krishna consoled Draopadi and advised her to observe Karva Chauth fast and assured her about the ultimate victory of the Pandavas.

In Uttar Pradesh, on Karva Chauth, the married women make idols of elephant (Indra’s Iravat) and worship, after seeing the moon.

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