Beyond The Surface, Karwa Chauth Can Be A Celebration Of Womanhood

Karwa Chauth, observed by married Hindu women, has been an integral part of Indian culture for generations. Yet, beyond the surface, at the heart of Karwa Chauth are countless tales of love and devotion passed down through the ages

Nikita Gupta
New Update
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In the diverse tapestry of India's cultural celebrations, Karwa Chauth stands as a shining jewel, weaving together stories of love, tradition, and empowerment. This annual fasting ritual, primarily observed by married Hindu women, has been an integral part of Indian culture for generations.


Yet, beyond the surface, at the heart of Karwa Chauth are countless tales of love and devotion passed down through the ages.

The Stories Of Wife's Devotion

  1. Queen Veervati's Vow

One of the most popular legends associated with Karwa Chauth revolves around Queen Veervati. According to the story, she was a young queen who observed a strict fast on Karwa Chauth. She endured the fast despite its difficulty and even fainted due to hunger. Her seven brothers, unable to bear her suffering, created a mirror-like structure in a tree to reflect the moonlight. Veervati mistook the reflection for the actual moon and broke her fast. Tragically, news soon arrived that her husband had died. Devastated by her mistake, she prayed intensely and, through divine intervention, her husband was brought back to life. This story is often cited as the reason behind the tradition of waiting for the moonrise to break the fast.

2. The Story of Karwa:

Another legend tells the story of a devoted wife named Karwa. Her husband was attacked by a crocodile while bathing in a river, and she tied a cotton thread around his wrist to stop the bleeding. She then fasted throughout the day and, by evening, Yama, the god of death, arrived to take her husband. Karwa's devotion and determination moved Yama that he granted her a boon to save her husband's life. This story underlines the belief that fasting on Karwa Chauth can protect a husband from life-threatening situations.


3. Draupadi and Karwa Chauth:

In the epic Mahabharata, there is a reference to Draupadi observing a fast on Karwa Chauth. She is said to have received divine guidance from Lord Krishna on how to break her fast safely when she was in a weakened state. This reference to Karwa Chauth in the ancient Indian epic adds to the festival's historical and cultural significance.

The Unknown Story Female Friendship

Another narrative regarding the festival's origins centres around the importance of female camaraderie. Given the prevalence of arranged marriages, the newlywed bride typically moves in with her husband and his family. In this context, a practice emerged where the bride would befriend another woman, forming a lifelong sisterly or friendly bond known as "kangan-saheli" or "dharam-behn." This friendship would be officially consecrated through a Hindu ritual during the marriage ceremony itself.

The bride's chosen friend would often be of a similar age, usually married within the same village to ensure their proximity, and not directly related to the bride's in-laws to avoid any potential conflicts of interest in the future. This emotional and psychological connection between the bride and her friend was regarded as equivalent to a blood relationship.

It is believed that the Karwa Chauth festival gradually incorporated the celebration of this special friendship bond into its traditions.


Outlook of today's Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth is a kaleidoscope of vibrant traditions and rituals that come together to create a sense of community and belonging. While the rituals may seem steeped in tradition, they have evolved to reflect the changing roles and aspirations of women in India. Women today engage in the rituals with as much enthusiasm as their foremothers but with a greater sense of empowerment and choice. It now represents a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.

Karwa Chauth has not been without its share of criticism, often questioned for reinforcing patriarchal norms and promoting gender stereotypes. However, it's important to recognise that for many women, participating in the ritual is a matter of choice, rather than coercion. While it may have been a rigid tradition in the past, today, women use it as a means to express their love, strengthen their relationships, and assert their autonomy.

The festival has also evolved to include fasting partners, with some men fasting alongside their wives, symbolising a more egalitarian approach. This shift reflects the evolving nature of Karwa Chauth as it adapts to the changing values and dynamics of Indian society.

In conclusion, Karwa Chauth showcases the adaptability and resilience of Indian culture. The stories that surround this festival highlight the deep bonds between married couples, the richness of Indian traditions, and the evolving empowerment of women. While it may have been rooted in a more rigid past, the festival is a celebration that evolves with the times, and its significance grows with each passing year.

Views expressed by the author are their own

Suggested Reading: How Mythical Female Villains Challenge Traditional Gender Norms

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