Wednesday, December 27, 2006
many years ago i worked for a boss who was a punjabi.to be exact he was from northwestern india and he belonged to a place which is now in pakistan.his wife was very fastidious when it came to 'karva chauth'. quite a modern woman but then on karva chauth day she would be completely transformed into a sati savithri.she would keep fast for the whole day and do pooja till the moon rose in the evening. and not even drink water. then perform a special arati,distribute sweets and join in the merrymaking; all for the sake of her husband.
it is said that for those married hindu women who follow the tradition properly,long life for the husband is a given. performed about nine days before divali in the krishna paksha (black half of the month)) chaturthi,in the month of kartik this festival is very popular in northern india. it is the most important fast observed by the hindu women of north india.it is also very popular among newly weds. karva means a clay pot. about nine inches in diameter and having a capacity of about two litres,lots of goodies are placed in the pot which is beautifully painted from the outside and exchanged with familymembers and friends after praying for the longevity of their husbands.the daughter-in-law also hands over the 'baya'- a basket full of presents from the mother to the mother-in-law.
in the olden days, girls were married off when they were young.the husband was the nourisher and protector. he was deified. he was considered to be the patidevata. however there was a practice of establishing a 'confidante' for the bride in her new environs. the married girl would adopt a girl from her in-law's village as a godfriend. in the new surroundings, she would be her friend,philosopher and guide. in fact this relationship used to be sanctified during the wedding ceremony. in case of any quarrel with the in-laws this girl would intervene and help sort out matters. it is believed that karva chauth started off as a function to celebrate the bond between these two friends. over time the girlfriend got relegated and the husband got the upper hand and the undivided attention of his spouse.
there is a story of a woman named karva. her husband was bitten by a crocodile. she caught hold of the crocodile and tied it up with a cotton cloth. when yama came to fetch her husband, she asked yama to send the crocodile to hell. he initially refused. she threatened to curse him. yama was so scared of the woman's curse that he agreed to send the croco to hell and give long life to her husband.
these days the younger generation have their own ways of performing karva chauth. they keep fast alright. they perform pooja and then it is a long long wait. for the fast to end and to see the rising moon through a sieve alongwith the husband. they kill several birds with one stone. they go for a beauty treatment. or for a tattoo. or to the mehendiwallah or the churiwallahs. or do all. and why not? if you are praying for the long life of your husband, you might as well try to look as young as you can.