New Delhi: The festival of Karva Chauth where womenfolk observe a day-long fast for the long life of their respective husbands is revered across the nation. This year, the festival happens to be on October 19. It usually falls on the fourth day after the full moon, in the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Kartik. Not just married women but unmarried girls also observe the Karva Chauth fast at times to get desired husbands or for their fiances.
This day has various legends related to its origin. According to one belief, Karva means pot and Chauth refers to the fourth day as per Hindu calendar. Some say that this day was celebrated because in the bygone era men would leave their wives and kids at home to fight the war at a far away place, so their better halves would pray for their healthy, long life. Also, some associated it with the wheat-sowing time, when big pots called Karvas are used to keep the Rabi crop, suggesting a fast to be kept for good harvest return.
Another legend says that this festival originated so as to provide a life-long friend to all those young, teenage girls who were married off early and sent to their in-laws' house. Just as they were sent to a new, strange place—having a confidante or a friend to keep oneself at peace was necessary, so it is said that a tradition started where young brides would befriend a female after reaching her in-laws' place. The female friend was referred to as Kangan-Saheli or Dharam Behn. They would stay friends for life (god sisters or friends).
Also, there would a small ceremony to put a sanction to this friendship during the wedding ceremony. So, Karva Chauth started as a festival to celebrate this special bond of friendship. A few days before Karva Chauth, married women would buy new karvas (spherical clay pots) -- 7"-9" in diameter and 2-3 litres capacity, decorating them with paint outside. They would make beautiful designs on it. The pots would be filled with items such as bangles, ribbons, home-made candy and sweets, make-up stuff, and small clothes as well.
On the festival day, women would then visit each other and exchange these karvas too.
So, celebrate the festival of Karva Chauth with much love and fervour.