Karva Chauth falls about nine days before Diwali. It is the most important fast observed by Hindu women of North India. On this day married Hindu women offer prayers seeking the welfare, prosperity, and a long life of their husbands. Though it is a day marked with neither food nor water. Early in the morning they prepare food and have it before sunrise. The morning passes by in other festive activities like decorating hand and feet with heena, decorating the pooja thali and meeting friends and relatives.
In the late afternoon women gather at a common place like temple or a garden or someone’s’ place who has arranged the pooja. An elderly lady or the pujar in narrates the legend of Karva Chauth. In the afternoon, mothers of newly wed girls give ‘Baya’ to the parents of their son-in-law. This Baya contains few Mathris, Almonds, and some gifts. The fast is broken once the moon is sighted and rituals of the day have been performed. At night when the moon appears, women break their fast after offering water to the moon.
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. The day of Karva Chauth is celebrated mostly amongst the entire North Indian community settled either in India and other parts of the world. The fast is unique perhaps because nowhere in the world does a wife go without food or water just to pray for the longevity and well-being of her husband.
The festival of Karva Chauth provides an opportunity for all married women to get close to their in-laws. Possessing a tremendous social and cultural significance, this festival is celebrated by keeping fast, applying henna and exchange of gifts.
Mother-in-laws buy ‘sargi’ for their daughter-in-laws. This ‘sargi’ consists of various types of sweetmeats, and sometime clothes. All these items are supposed to bring good luck to the women. There is great festivity on this day.