Do you celebrate Karwa Chauth?

Karwa Chauth is a Festival for married women who celebrate by fasting, gift giving and bonding with sisters, mothers and friends.  It was held on October 15th which was the fourth day of the dark moon and falls 9 days before Diwali.

I never heard of this festival before and when a group I belong to brought it up, I did some research.

Karwa Chauth is actually a North Indian festival in which married women will fast from before sunrise till she can see the moon that night.  In some instances and for some families, if the moon is not visible then they will fast for a second day.

Absolutely no water or food is taken at this time, although some will drink lemon water for digestive reasons.

But I found something interesting.  Karwa Chauth did not start as a fast for the longevity of one’s husband.  It was actually started for a much different reason.

In India, not too long ago, women would be married at a young age and move to their Husband’s home to live with him and his family.  Usually this would be far removed from the young woman’s own village, family and friends, leaving her alone in a new place to deal with the traditions, rituals and expectations of a new family.

Because there were no phones, internet or even trustworthy transportation, the young women were truly isolated.

So, a woman from the new village would be chosen to be a God-friend or God-sister (friend or sister by God).  This bond would be created during the marriage to her new husband with a ceremony to link the two women together for life.

These two women would bond over issues with their family situations, marriages and life in general.  They were the outlets that were needed when it wasn’t provided by the husband and his family.

Eventually, fasting for one’s husband and extra activities were added to the festival.  Some say that it adapted to honor the husband who brought the friendship into being.  Other’s thought that it was a way to offer acceptance for a strictly female based tradition into a patriarchal society.

Either way, today it has become a festival celebrated by many the world over, whether your heritage is North Indian or not.  Special puja’s and thali decorations, elaborate henna designs, new clothes and jewelry, kajol and sindoor and gifts from other brides and one’s husband.

My husband’s family does not celebrate this festival.  Our main fasting day is Teej and it is during this time that I fast all day for my husband.

What is your family traditions surrounding fasting for a spouses well-being and longevity?  Do you both fast?  Are you allowed anything during this, like fruit, sabudana, potato chips or water?

Happy Belated Karwa Chauth!

21 thoughts on “Do you celebrate Karwa Chauth?

  1. Pingback: Karwa Chauth Celebration |

  2. Nope don’t fast, i do however go on fruit/vegetable/juice/water cleasing diet on that day since it’s easier to do that when my entime family – MILS/SIL et all are fasting.. of course they frown upon it. but then after 15yrs of marriage they are use to my rebellious attitude, my husband on that day fasts with only water and fruit juice ( his day of cleanse i assume) 🙂 but i love the mehendi/ gifts etc., i don’t care to wait for the moon either, not a big deal for me..

    • Fasting is not something that I’m used to and since I’m hypothyroid it’s REALLY hard on my system… I only have to do it once a year and then only till dinner! That’s when Hubby takes me out for eats!

    • I agree! It is such a lovely idea isn’t? I KINDA got one….my husband’s best friend and old college room-mate. He and I share the same tastes in books/music/movies and when we all go out to dinner it generally turns into a big ole’ conversation between the two of us and my husband sitting there saying “What’s that? When did that come out? Who’s in it?” 😉

  3. The way you explain this tradition is very beautiful and inspiring. I love the idea of a God-sister to help young brides. I can imagine it’s really useful, especially for young mothers.

  4. Thats v interesting, was it on your blog I read about rakhi? (The brother and sister ritual) We did it in India! (My kids) I think it’s meant to be every full moon though?!

  5. The bollywoodization (the new rule-setter for south asian cultures) of Karwa Chauth and subsequent Malhotra/Kapoor/Kumar- ization is probably the only reason I ever heard of this day of fasting.
    Growing up, every culture seemed to have a different day and rules for this type of fast. Almost all of them were extremely low key.

      • Karwa Chauth has probably been around for centuries but it was definitely not a pan Indian holiday when I was growing up in India. It was celebrated in some parts of North India but was not as widely understood or celebrated everywhere. Most regions have/had their own celebration of this sort, with very different rituals. As a maharashtrian I understood celebrating this holiday very differently from the naach gaana/mehendi/moon-viewing/hen parties (fun, but just very alien to me) that Karwa Chauth is celebrated today.

        It seems like, in the last couple decades Bollywood has standardized this holiday in terms of ritual and expectation with a huge emphasis on Punjabi traditions being that … an idealized punjabi culture is most often represented in popular and blockbuster Hindi cinema. (there … Mohit here is your answer for you too 🙂 )

  6. I did fast during Karva Chauth once, because my ex-MIL insisted on it.

    I however, have very strong objections to traditions like Karva Chauth, Teej and Vata Savitri.

    I have always felt uncomfortable about the asymmetrical nature of the traditions. The wives pray for the husband’s well-being and long life but not vice-versa.

    In fact, during my marriage to my ex-husband, I searched the Hindu scriptures for any sort of ritual and ceremony where the husband honours the wife and wishes for her well-being and long life.

    I did not come across any. This left me with the feeling that Hindu traditions celebrate and venerate husbandhood, but not wifehood.

    Somehow, I have never been comfortable with the implicit meaning of this assymetry in terms of expectations and obligations.

    I feel that such traditions subtly perpetuate biased thinking in Indian society, that husbands are more important than wives, and that women need their husbands more than men need their wives.

    That’s just me though.

    I have many friends who fast during Karva Chauth because for them, this is a public and meaningful declaration of their love for their husbands and the joy that marriage has brought to their lives.

    A few husbands I know, fast along with their wives.

    So I guess it’s really up to us how we interpret tradtions and what meaning we ascribe to them.

    • Bad Indian Girl, Ahhhhh the dreaded MIL demands. Must love those, nah? 😉

      I also had some qualms about it at first. I didn’t want to be involved in something that took importance (and possibly hurt my health) away from my part in our relationship. But my husband also fasts with me for Teej and calls me frequently during that day to check on me or encourage me to eat should I really need to. We both pray together in the morning and the evening for BOTH our health and longevity. This is a fasting that I can get behind. I think that sometimes it’s not what someone ELSE says it is….but rather what you make it. 🙂

Speak Your Mind!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s