The pious festival of Karva Chauth is considered one of the most significant and auspicious festivals for married Hindu women across the northern belt of India, which includes Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. This sacred and colorful festival is celebrated in the month of Kartik, four days after the full moon as per the auspicious Hindu calendar. Karva Chauth marks the day when Hindu women offer special prayers to God for a happy married life and for the benediction of a long life to their husbands. Usually this festival falls almost nine days prior to the ‘festival of lights’ - Diwali.
The vibrancy and exuberance of the festival can be felt in the air, a night before as women indulge in shopping and apply intricate mehndi designs on their palms. Daughter-in-laws gift their mother-in-laws with new cloths and other presents and in return, as a token of their blessings, they present their daughter-in-laws with sindoor, new bangles, make-up kits, etc. These are considered very auspicious for married women in the Hindu culture. On the day of the festival, married women wake up early and have an elaborate meal before the sunrise. This customary meal is known as sargi and includes delectable dishes like vermicelli garnished with dry fruits, sweets, fruit, etc. This is the last meal including water that the women have until they see the moon in the night.
The next phase of the festival begins at noon around 4 to 5 pm when married women decked in their finest of clothes and jewelry gather together in a compound and offer prayers to Goddess Gauri. The prayer ceremony includes singing of Karva Chauth songs, passing of puja thalis from one woman to another and listening to the story of Karva Chauth. Once the puja is over, women wait for the moon to rise and then take their fist sip of water from the hands of their husbands after offering prayers to the Moon God. Once the fast is broken, it is only then that all sit down to have a robust family meal.
Over the last few years, the trend of offering Karva Chauth gifts by husbands has become very common. These gift items may range from clothes to jewellery or fashion accessories.