Karwa Chauth is a ritual of fasting observed by married Hindu women seeking the longevity, well-being and prosperity of their husbands. It is popular amongst married women in the northern and western parts of India, especially, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
The term “Chauth” means the “fourth day: and “Karwa” is an earthen pot with a spout–a symbol of peace and prosperity–that is necessary for the rituals.
Karwa Chauth is the most important and difficult fast observed by married Hindu women only–unmarried women, widows, and spinsters are barred from observing this fast. The fast begins before sunrise and ends only after offering prayers and worshiping the moon at night.
No food or water can be taken after sunrise. Married women keep a very strict fast and do not take even a drop of water. They get up early in the morning, perform their ablutions, and wear new and festive raiment. Shiva, Parvati and their son Kartikeya are worshiped on this day, along with the ten ‘karwas’ (earthen pots) filled with sweets. The Karwas are given to daughters and sisters along with gifts.
In traditional observances, the fasting woman does no housework for they day. Instead, women pass the day by meeting friends and relatives. In the evening, a ceremony that includes only women is held. In the evening, women dress up in special clothes, usually a red or pink sari (lehenga-choli) with gold woven ‘zari’ patterns.