:: Origin and Significance :: The fast of Karwa Chauth is of particular importance to all Hindu married women in India. They believe that the festival ensures prosperity, longevity and well-being of their husbands. The origin of this festival was based on a very sweet and noble idea. Though this idea has lost its true sense as today the whole outlook of this festival has changed. In the ancient time, girls used to get married at a very early stage, and had to go and live with their in-laws in other villages. After marriage, if she faces any problem with her in-laws or her husband, she would have no one to talk to or seek support from. There used to be no telephones, buses and trains long ago. Her own parents and relatives would be quite far and unreachable. Thus the custom started that, at the time of marriage, when bride would reach her in-laws, she would befriend another woman there who would be her friend or sister for life. It would be like god-friends or god-sisters. Their friendship would be sanctified through a small Hindu ceremony right during the marriage. Once the bride and this woman had become god-friends or god-sisters, they would remain so all their lives and recognize the relation as such. They would also treat each other like real sisters. Later in life, if she faces any difficulty related to her husband or in-laws, she would be able to confidently talk or seek help from each other. Thus, Karwa Chauth was started to as a festival to celebrate this relationship between the once-brides and their god-friends (god-sisters). Fasting and praying for husband came later and is secondary. It was probably added, along with other mythical tales, to enhance the festival. The husband would always be associated with this festival, because the day of starting this holy friendship between two god-sisters was essentially the day of bride's marriage to him. Thus, praying and fasting for him by his wife during a celebration of her relationship with the god-friend would be quite logical. Hence, the festival of Karwa Chauth was to renew and celebrate the relationship between god-friends (god-sisters). It had a tremendous social and cultural significance when world was not having the way to communicate and move around easily. :: The Tradition of Karwa Chauth :: The traditional Indian calendar is one long pageant of colorful festivals, a colorful mosaic of festivals, fairs and fasts as diverse as the land itself. The festival and fast of Karva Chauth is celebrated with much exuberance and fanfare. It is considered an important and auspicious day for married women. A married woman celebrates this day with great fervor and dedication, by observing a fast and praying for the long life of her husband. The fast is observed during the month of Kartik on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha (descending moon). This generally falls in the month of October. The earliest reference of a Karva Chauth can be found in the great epic of Mahabharata. As per Mahabharata, Arjun, a supreme warrior and one of the Pandavas, went to the Nilgiri Hills to offer his prayers and worship the gods. Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas, was accompanying him. On the way, Draupadi was struck with fear believing that she was alone in the forest with no one to protect her. As she treated Lord Krishna as her Brother, she invoked him to appear before her and help her out of this grave situation. On listening to her fear and perplexity, Lord Krishna cited an example of Goddess Parvati. Parvati in a similar situation asked Lord Shiva's help. Lord Shiva explained to her that to ward off such apprehensions, a woman could observe a fast on Kartik Krishna Chaturthi as a remedy. Lord Krishna advised Draupadi to undertake this fast and also assured her of he victory of the Pandavas. Women also pray to Lord Ganesha for the fulfillment of all their wishes. The fast has all the trappings of festivity. Women dress up in their best finery, with henna-decked hands, bindis, colorful bangles, vermilion in their hair-parting and the best of jewelery. However, they do not eat even a morsel of food, neither drink a drop of water, from dawn till the moon rises. Finally, when the moon is sighted, the wife goes out to view it. The moon is worshiped and then she turns to view her husband's face through the pores of a sieve, praying for his long life. After performing the puja, its finally time for food. :: Karwachauth Festival & its Social Significance :: The festival of Karva Chauth was emerged as a day to celebrate the season of autumn and enjoy the company of friends and relatives. But later on, many mythological legends were added to give it a religious touch. This festival is glorified and widely solemnized by the Hindus and Sikh of north-western India. As the name signifies, Karva meaning a clay pot and chauth corresponding to the fourth, this festival is commemorated on the the fourth day after the Full Moon in Kartik month of Hindu calendar. A few days before Karva Chauth, married women buy new karvas, the spherical clay pots and paint them on the outside with beautiful designs. Inside the pot, they put bangles and ribbons, home-made candy and sweets, make-up items and small clothes e.g. handkerchief. The women then visit each other on the day of Karva Chauth or immediately afterward, and exchange these karvas. Season-wise, soon after the harvest, it is an excellent time to enjoy festivities, meet one another and exchange gifts. During the time of Karva Chauth, parents send gifts to married daughters and their children. Usually, falling in the month of October, Karvachauth is celebrated midst harvesting of summer crops. Apart from the fast, kept by married woman for the long life of their husbands, people like to remember and meet their relatives and friends, and exchange gifts with them. Thus, Karva Chauth is very much a social and seasonal festival as it is a religious affair. :: Regional Significance of Karwa Chauth :: Karwa Chauth festival has an extraordinary observance rate among married women in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This is a significant day for married women as they keep fast for the long-life and well-being of of their husbands. The way of celebrating Karwa Chauth vary from each other on regional basis. Punjab : The festival of Karwa chauth is one of the most important festival for married women in Punjab. Few days before this auspicious festival, all the markets in Punjab gets flooded with various accessories and decorative items including bangles, beautiful sarees, embroidered suits, stalls of sweets and eatables. Number of artists from different cities like Agra, Jaipur, Delhi, etc gather here with their special mehndis to decorate hands of women. In some parts of Punjab, young damsels too keep the fast in the hope of winning a loving husband. Rajasthan : Among the women of Rajasthan, the festival of Karwa Chauth has its own meaning. The women make the karwas with mud and fill them with rice and wheat. They wear their wedding-day dress or chunris on this auspicious day. Karwa Chauth generally falls on the full moon day of the month Jyeshtha. This is also known as 'Vata Purnima'. Interestingly, the woman who observes this fast is not only blessed with welfare of her husband but also wins the same husband for the next seven births. Uttar Pradesh : In Uttar Pradesh, the married women keep the fast and pray for the long-life of their husband. They decorate the walls of their home with drawings of Gauri Ma, the moon and the sun. They also make the karwa with mud and perform the evening puja with earthen lamps. Before looking at the moon, the women pray to the figurines at their doorstep. Other States : Other Indian states also observes this fast. In Gujarat, many women observe this fast with great spirit. In Madhya Pradesh also, most of them follow the traditions of the women from Uttar Pradesh. In all these states the first 'Karva Chauth' of any new bride is a very important festival. New clothes, new jewelery and gifts from both mother and mother-in-law are received. The wedding day outfits are worn once again, mehndi is applied and the family gathers to celebrate it with them. There are many similar stories associated with this festival in different parts of India. In Maharashtra this particular fast is not very popular but a similar one called 'Vaat Savitri' is kept by married women.