Indian women celebrate Karva Chauth
PUNE – It will be a day of fasting for several married women across the city on Tuesday as they celebrate Karva Chauth, to pray for the safety and long life of their husbands. Dressed in traditional attire, glass bangles with mehendi on their hands and the customary sindoor on their foreheads, women will stay away from food, and some even water, from dawn till evening- until they see the moon and break their fast.
The markets have been buzzing with activity for the last few days with women out for last-minute shopping. Retail websites too have been dangling discounts on Karva Chouth gifts. However, the actual festivities will finally begin early on Tuesday, in some cases much before sunrise, when women from certain communities will eat their only meal of the day, which is traditionally cooked by mother-in-laws in joint families and is complete with specially prepared seviyan, almonds, sweet and salty matthis, a sweet, fruits and a main course of their choice. Families from other states that observe the festival bring in their traditional flavours to the dinner table, touched only after the fast is broken.
A special pooja will be held in the afternoon in Punjabi households in which women will sit together in a circle to hear the katha, usually narrated by an elderly woman and pass pooja thalis around while singing songs. This will be followed by community activities and games.
The celebrations, once restricted to households have become bigger over the years. Reema Gupta, a resident of Vimannagar, is looking forward to the celebrations in her society. “I finished shopping during Navaratra itself. Mehendi artistes will come to our society on Monday evening so that they can cater to all women, especially working women. We have downloaded the katha for the pooja from the internet and will perform the rituals as it plays in the background. Later, all the women will sit together to play games like tambola and dumb charades,” she said.
Gupta will break her fast in the evening, after she sees the moon through a sieve. “My husband will stand with me so that I can turn to look at him after looking at the moon. He will feed me my first morsel of the day,” she said.
There are similar celebrations in other families as well. Ekta Ashish Nautiyal will not only perform the pooja in the afternoon, but will also have an elaborate ceremony before she breaks her fast in the evening. “I will see the moon through a sieve, in which I will also place a diya, go round seven times and offer rice to the moon. My husband will feed me small doses of water at the end of the seven circles,” she said.
“Many parties are organized before Karva Chauth and beauty parlours offer special packages. So women can pamper themselves,” Nautiyal added.
Get-togethers have been planned at city hotels as well, with the festival acting as just the perfect excuse for families to get together over dinner and celebrations. Songs from Bollywood flicks that have showcased the celebration on a grand scale often form the backdrop of such evenings.
Traditionally celebrated by families in northern parts of the country, the festival is now celebrated in all corners of the country. It has also undergone a transformation of sorts over the years with some modifications, with some women choosing to drink water or beverages. In some families, men observe the fast too, not just to show solidarity with their spouses, but also to pray for their health and to make their day more memorable.