Rituals & Festivities
Though it is a day marked with neither food nor water, this festival is quite popular among the newly weds. A few days before the festival, markets are full of items needed for the festival. The preparations for this festival start a week in advance. Appointments are made with beauty parlours, hands are decorated with intricate mehendi designs and jewellery and cloth merchants do a brisk business.
On this day the women get up before sunrise. They worship Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, Kartikeya and the moon. The blessings of the Gods are invoked for longevity and prosperity of their husbands and children. Mothers-in-law give their daughters-in-law sumptuous food called 'Sargi' to eat before sunrise, as the fast starts before sunrise and ends only after worshiping the moon at night. It is a tough fast, as the women do not take any food or water.
In the evening, the women to cherish the joy of adorning bridal finery. Many times, the newly wed wear their wedding dress on this auspicious occasion, usually the ghagra-choli or Banarsi saris, embellished with the old-new shimmer of gold, diamonds and rubies. After dressing up, she receives gifts from the mother-in-law.
Before evening, the married woman receives the baya or a basket full of goodies from her mother, which is meant for the mother-in-law. The basket contains sweets, mathadi, fruits and a sari. Before the sun sets, most of the women in a locality gather in one house and prepare a corner for the puja. This puja chowk is beautifully decorated and a small platform is prepared against a wall. On this, the image of Gauri Mata or Goddess Parvati is placed. In the olden days, this image was made of cow-dung. Fasting women from all over the neighborhood gather in a group and narrate the story of Karwa Chauth that underscore the significance of Karwa Chauth and sing the Karwa Chauth song while rotating the thalis containing Baya .
Once the moon rises, the women see its reflection in a thali of water, or through a dupatta or a sieve. They offer water to the moon and seek blessings. They pray for the safety, prosperity and long life of their husbands and sing a Karwachauth ark song. She is then given a piece of sweet and sip of water by her husband. Hands over the Baya to the monther-in-law or any elderly lady of the household and seeks the blessings. Then comes the much awaited sumptuous dinner. This marks the end of a day long fast.