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Karva Chauth is one of the most popular festivals of North India. It is the day on which married women observe a fast for the long life of their husbands. Even unmarried women may observe this fast. The festival has been popularised by its portrayal in the Bollywood movies. There are many stories associated with the fast that many people are not aware of.
As per the rituals, women have to observe a fast without food and water throughout the day. They can break the fast only after seeing the moon at night, followed by offering puja to the moon and to one's husband. It is one of the most difficult fasts to keep. However, is some traditions, women eat something soon after getting up when the stars and the moon have not yet left the sky.
By mid-afternoon on the fasting day, all the women of the neighbourhood gather at a common place. A platform like an altar for the God is made at one corner of the house and it is decorated with flowers and a beautiful image of Goddess Parvati is placed on it.
Traditionally, this idol should be made with mud or cow dung. But some people also place idols available in the market. The story of Karva Chauth is narrated and is one of the most important rituals to be followed. Every woman observing the fast must listen to the vrat katha or the legends of Karva Chauth.
The legends of Karva Chauth are one of the most interesting aspects of the festival. Let us have a look.
Legend Of Queen Veervati
The beautiful queen Veervati was the only sister of seven brothers. After marriage, the queen went to her parents' house to celebrate her firstKarvaChauth. She kept a fast from sunrise but by evening she desperately waited for the moon to rise as she suffered from severe thirst and hunger. Her seven brothers could not bear their sister's agony and decided to break her fast through a trick. They placed a mirror on the peepal tree and reflected light on it to create an illusion that the moon had risen. Veervati mistook it as the moon and broke her fast.
As soon as she ate the food, message arrived that her husband had died. Veervati was heartbroken and began to run towards her husband's house, weeping. On the way Goddess Parvati appeared before her and revealed the trick of her brothers. The Goddess cut her own finger and gave Veervati her holy blood. She further instructed her to keep the fast again with full devotion. Veervati went to her husband's corpse and sprinkled the holy blood on him. His life was restored after which Veervati performed theKarva Chauthfast again. Thus, after this all women started keeping the fast.
Once Arjuna left for the Nilgiris for a penance. During the time, the Pandavas faced a lot of problems in exile. So, Draupadi sought Krishna's help. Krishna told her to keep the Karva Chauth vrat and told her the story of Goddess Parvati keeping the fast for Lord Shiva. Thus, Draupadi kept the fast following all the rituals and the Pandavas overcame their problems.
The Story Of Karva
A woman named Karva was extremely devoted to her husband. Once her husband went to the river and a crocodile killed him. Karva bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn and asked Yama to send the crocodile to hell. Yama refused. So, she threatened to curse him. Afraid of receiving a curse from a devoted wife like Karva, Yama sent the crocodile to hell and restored her husband's life. It was a Chaturthi day. Thus, Karva Chauth came to be celebrated for the long life of husbands.
When Lord Yama came to procure Satyavan's soul, Savitri, his wife, begged him to grant him life. When he refused, she stopped eating and drinking and followed Yama who carried away her dead husband. Yama said that she could ask for any other boon except for the life of her husband. Savitri asked that she be blessed with children. Since she was a devoted wife she could not have children from any other man. Thus, Yama had to restore Satyavan's life. That is why women fast without a drop of water or morsel of food onKarva Chauth.