Imagine enthusiastically throwing a big festival amongst all your female married friends and family with the intention to renew the bond married woman and friends share and the main focus being to seek blessings for your husband, to celebrate him. Yes, to celebrate your man and reinforce the marital bond between you both. 🙂
What if every year you spent an entire day and ten (10) additional days to be exact preparing for this festival and I am not talking about giving him a birthday party or handing him a tie on Fathers Day. Imagine a national holiday with social importance that celebrates husbands. Imagine one special day that is set aside to focus on our husbands needs. And I am not saying us women don’t focus on their needs everyday in some way, but imagine giving your husband so much honor, respect and importance, just short of treating him like he is a king in the eyes of a culture that considers him just that significant and deserving.
What would you say if such a holiday/festival really does exist? Well in the north and north western part of India, Hindu married women, newly wedded or long term marriages, young and old celebrate their husbands each year with great enthusiasm and it’s called Karva Chauth or sometimes called Karwa Chauth. When I was first exposed to the dimensions of Karva Chauth my heart skipped a beat and I knew this was something I wanted to explore even further. Imagine a day that special prayers went up for the men in our lives and this is not some mundane holiday either, but a day of fasting (no water or food allowed for an entire day) and special prayers for the longevity, health and prosperity of our husbands and to ensure wedded bliss. These fasts are kept for the well being of the husband who is our protector and provides us with food, shelter, clothing, respectability, comfort and happiness.
There’s lots of preparation made for this day. The home is completely decorated beautifully. The women have up to ten days beforehand to purchase the symbols of marriage. These symbols include buying cosmetics (shringar), new clothing such as an beautiful sari dress and chunries in auspicious colors of red or pink or other bridal colors, or some choose to wear their actual wedding dresses and their wedding day veils for this special occasion, puja items and lots of traditional gold and silver jewelry is worn such as bangles, chain chomp earrings, a nose pin, toe rings, navel rings, ankle bracelets, tika or bindi.
Early in the morning just before sunrise all the married women of the household get up early and bathe and have a special meal (usually sweets) and drinks before fasting begins. They offer the first prayer for their husbands and then the entire morning is spent applying henna on themselves and each other’s palms, hands and feet, decorating the Puja Thali Plate, playing games, involving themselves in various happy activities and getting all dressed up for this huge festival.
The early evening is spent with other married women who are relatives and friends to gather in a ring together in a designated place, home or temple to conduct Karva Chauth Puja.
After a day filled with various ceremonies and rituals and merrymaking at the end of the day, the entire community is on the look out for a sighting of the moon. At moonlight and as soon as the moon is sighted the wife with her husband would seek the reflection of the moon in thali water, behind a veil or through a sieve. Then she’d offer water to the moon (their lunar deity) and seek divine blessing, then she turns to her husband and views his face indirectly through thali water, behind a veil or through a sieve and prays briefly for the safety, prosperity and well being of her husband. It is their belief that the wife is now spiritually stronger and can face even death on her husband’s behalf.
And as a show of their affection and appreciation the husbands leave work early on this day and break the wife’s fast with their own hands.
Their husband feeds his the wife something sweet to eat and a sip of water with his own hands. And at that point the fast is ended and the celebration continues with the wife having a sumptuous dinner and also her husband gifts his wife, which I think is such a loving thing to do.
I believe this very act of the husband lovingly feeding his wife with his own hands to break her fast and him gifting her is so romantic, oh I would fall in love with my husband all over again each time he does this for me.
You may even get a glimpse of this beautiful ritual and festival in a many Bollywood movies and in Hindi soaps. I can recommend two Bollywood movies in particular one is “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” and the other is “Baghban”
and also I’ve seen this in a couple of older Hindi soaps like two of my favorites “Tere Mere Sapne” and “Sajan Ghar Jans Hai” on star plus.
You may also check out Karwa Chauth being performed in various bollywood movies and here’s one quick video of a actual couple celebrating it.
karva chouth (Photo credit: Alankar)
- Karwa Chauth – Praying for husband’s long life (indi-eye.com)
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