Festivals of India
India is a Mega country with a dimension 1,997 miles N to S, and 1,822 miles E to W. Naturally there are some festivals celebrated all over the country and some are more regional. Diwali, the festival of Lights, falls in October or November and is a national Hindu festival and the most important, celebrated all over India.
Karwa Chauth is also a Hindu Festival celebrated in the North of India and is 10 days before Diwali. It is a celebration by married women for the welfare and happiness of their husbands and their married life. It is a strict fast and even water is not consumed from Sunrise to Moon Rise.
It is customary for the mother-in-law to give a light snack to the daughter-in-law before the sun rise and always a ritual for the Mothe- in-law to receive a gift of Saree and almonds from the daughter-in-law after the completion of the Puja in the evening as appreciation. I always had a gift for Mataji and she looked forward to it when we visited India.
Various Myths behind the Festival.
One of the most popular stories is about a beautiful Queen Veeravati who did repentance for one year after she broke her fast unintentionally and was rewarded in her husband return from death.
In North India there is a myth about the men who went to fight abroad and whose long lives were saved due to their wives observing the fast. This is similar to the “Window Watch” or “Roof Walk” from the coastal houses of 18th century in Cape Cod. The wives of Mariners would look for incoming ships from a railed roof top platform.
The day of Karwa Chauth
After a daylong fasting, women dress up in shades of red (considered festive) and get together and do the Puja ceremony with family and friends. They sing some folk songs, eagerly awaiting the Moon rise. After seeing the Moon in company of their dear husband with prayers of gratitude, the fast ends with food and water. Even in inclement weather, there is no choice but to end the fast according to the moon rise time.
My personal memorable history of Karwa Chauth.
My first Karwa Chauth was in 1963 during the time of my engagement. I had a surprise visit By Raj and Mataji at my Hospital while I was doing my internship. They brought me a nice basket of goodies for the next morning expecting me to observe the fast. Mataji had given me her blessing to skip if I could not observe, BUT MY DEAR FUTURE HUSBAND Raj was casual and gently persuasive that I would observe Karwa Chauth. I kept my calm, but inside shivers ran down my spine. I had never observed any fasts, they were not in my dictionary.
I consented to do it
The next day Bauji and Chaeji went with me to shop for the wedding and were totally surprised to learn I was fasting before marriage. Sure enough, I endured and survived, and it stayed in my memory forever.
Between 1963 to 2020, during my 57 memorable and happy life together, I have been fortunate to observe Karwa Chauth with love for Raj. I only skipped three times, once when I was pregnant 1974; in 1996 when I was on 24-hour hospital in house call; and third in 1997 while we were travelling. In the last few years, even many husbands have also started keeping the fast for the joint welfare.
In Boston 1968, we shared Karwa Chauth with my very dear friend Suraj. Her and her lovely husband Subhash, Raj and I jointly celebrated it together. I remember Suraj calling the weather channel for moon rise time and received back a message for us to check the newspaper. Thus started our Karwa Chauth Alumni group.
The next year our celebration grew to three couples and as time passed with more friends who were now family, we became over a group of 10 couples. We Look forward to the celebration with potlucks and hosting in rotation. We had lots of enjoyment to look forward to celebrating part of our heritage in our adopted country.
Like all other holidays over the years, this festival has become more commercialized, and celebrations take place in temples with priest authenticating the ceremony. Though we have enjoyed our private club.
My Last Karwa Chauth, November 4, 2020
Raj suggested we keep it modified to have an easier day, I said let’s see how the day goes by. I could endure it and so there was no modification. Normally we would go for a drive on top of the hill to get an early view of the moon, but this year it was challenging for Raj so we decided to stay home. Luckily at 8.30 pm we could see the beautiful moon from our family room window. We said our prayer and kissed and concluded the fast.
I did not know this was going to be my last fast and my last celebration of Karwa Chauth.
Raj passed away on November 18th. He is my eternal love, over and over the thought daunted me had I modified my fast I would feel guilty for ever.
This year Karwa Chauth is on October 24th Of course the moon will rise but I will not be observing the fast. The day will be challenging and daunting. I Will try to endure and revive happy memories of the past, which are inseparable with memories of 58 years permanently living in my heart. One must accept what you cannot change, and I count my blessings and sincere gratitude for all the happiness life has given me.
Karwa Chauth Festival
On April 23rd, 2021, I was in my family room at 10 p.m. and I accidentally saw this beautiful moon from the same window. This made me reminisce of my last Karwa Chauth with Raj and the memories etched in my heart forever. This Pink Moon is a rare occurrence and signifies the myths. Change and adaptability requires courage to fail and the courage to try again. It reminded me of our last Karwa Chauth together. This memory forever will haunt me. I will miss Raj and Karwa Chauth, but I count my blessings to be fortunate to observe 54 KC out of our 57 years union.