Our First Karva Chauth

Our First Karva Chauth

Last year, unofficially, we celebrated Karva Chauth, but this year was marks a special occasion. The first Karva Chauth after marriage is the most significant and important for the new bride.

Karva Chauth is a Hindu holiday (mostly celebrated in North India) in which a wife fasts (goes without food and water) and prays for the long life of her husband. The wife dresses in her wedding saree, or a similar saree, and adorns herself with her best jewelry and make up.

Check out last year’s post for more information. 

Karva Chauth sparks a lot of controversy as being sexist. Some women believe it to be a romantic holiday, while others find it sexist, dangerous, and downright pointless. Why should a woman go without food and water just to prove her love for her husband? Some women forego the fasting all together, and some women fast with their husbands. Some women fast without question or concern for their own well being.

As much as I searched for the actual origin of the fast, I could not find it. I found Wikipedia’s military explanation, but is there an actual origin in Hinduism?

This year, on Karva Chauth, I was a bit nervous to be celebrating with my husband’s elder sister. I thought that being with family may rob the holiday of its sense of romance. In a very big way, it did.

Aside from the initial pain of starving, I was forced to drink a special chai – despite considering it as breaking the fast, I had to deal with a very hangry sister-in-law, and at the end of the night I became very weak and sick and could not eat any food. My sister-in-law was convinced it was because I drank too much water (but I only had one small glass), my husband thought it was because of the sweet he offered me during the puja, and Jija Ji (meaning elder sister’s husband, here referring to SIL’s husband) thought it would be a good idea if I drank some Limca (a lemon soda) to cure my stomach woes. In short, no one understood that I was sick because I was dehydrated – and on top of that, no one wanted me to drink more water. It was extremely frustrating.

The good news is, the puja on the rooftop, the ritual of seeing the moon and then my husband through the sieve, was romantic… But those butterflies did not stand a chance against the pain of hunger and dehydration.

To be fair, my husband tried to talk me out of it, in the early morning, day of. He even offered me food claiming “no one will find out”. Even then, I stuck to the fast. But I am realizing now, that this very old tradition serves neither husband or wife. It does not prove devotion. Can you imagine what would have happened if I fainted or became seriously ill? Or any wife? Counter productive.

It’s likely that I will find a better way to observe this holiday, from now on.

Featured image by wldraven via Deviantart.com

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12 thoughts on “Our First Karva Chauth

  1. So sad to hear you had a tough time of it Crystal! Hope you are feeling better now. Sounds like the family pressures took away from the enjoyment and powerful introspection that you can get from fasting. I chose to drink water throughout my fast – for me it is a very personal thing. Being on the other side of the world from my love and having no other women to share the experience with, I decided that the thought process, meditation and prayer were more important than sticking to the rules! Also it was cloudy and I couldn’t see the moon so went by the official moon rise timing! I am writing a post also on the same – will send you a link when it is done and hopefully it can fill in some of the gaps regarding the festival 🙂

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  2. Being insulin resistant and having the need to maintain a constant blood sugar means that even if my in-laws were asking me to do it I would not. I don’t think this fast is necessary to strengthen a couple, and there are many other ways to introspect without starving and feeling dehydrated. Plus when I get Hangry, and I do if my blood sugar drops (nasty mood swings actually) I could easily bite my husband’s head off, the irony being that my husband has a better chance at longevity if I am well fed all through the day 🙂

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    1. Congratulations on your first Karva Chauth after marriage. God bless you two. I have personally never heard of the story of Karva Chauth about military campaigns. I have read it first time on your blog. However, there is a popular story regarding this pooja which I have heard and it is this. This is actually the more popular story behind it. This story is also sung during the pooja when the women sit in a circle.

      http://www.karwachauth.com/karwa-chauth-story.html

      In Hinduism, there is a small book for every pooja which describes the story which is the basis of the story. These are “Vrata Katas” or “stories behind hindu festivals”. It is a small book which is read during the poojas to tell the people the importance of a particular pooja. The Karva Chauth story comes from one of these books. There are lots of these stories in different languages and sometimes the stories/rituals keep on changing according to communities/family traditions.

      As far as fasts are concerned, there were probably devised to cleanse the body and also for introspection. The muslims keep fast for the whole month of Ramzan and even children participate in it. I admire their determination and discipline. This is quiet formidable display of discipline. This is like a marathon of fasting.

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  3. Did anyone tell you the “story” behind it? I guess that is the “origin” of it. Other than that I really don’t understand why anyone would come up with such a thing.
    Personally I am really on the edge about this festival. I try to remain neutral.

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  4. In Hinduism there are lots of fasts on weekly basis. Some keep the Monday fast in respect of Lord Shiva. Some the Tuesday fast for Lord Hanuman. There are people who fast for two or three days a week because every other day is dedicated to some deity.

    There are fast for the full moon days, seasonal fasts and fast for particular days. During, Navratri some people fast for the whole nine days, some for the first and the last day of Navaratri. Some people are so used to fasting that they become veterans of fasting. Then their body adjusts accordingly. This is a rare talent I guess.

    Interestingly there is a similar fast like Karva Chauth known as the Vat Savitri Vrat followed in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vat_Purnima

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  5. I’m one of those people who has no patience for people who fast, particularly for religious reasons. Each to their own, but Karva Chauth annoys me as its only the women who have to suffer through it. My (Christian) in-laws fast at the drop of a hat to get things they want, and then wonder why they are sick when they are clearly dehydrated. But, good on you for trying it, and I’m happy your husband tried to persuade you to cheat 😉

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  6. What a lovely husband!! I am so glad that he was supportive and understanding when you were sick! Looks like a romantic getaway with just the two of you would be a better way to celebrate this holiday! 🙂

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  7. I left a comment last night and after doing it later I realized what I wrote lol. So here I am making up for it.
    By “story” I meant the myth that they tell on this day. Heard it second time already and apparently elders tell it every year. It’s quite morbid.
    I was told that Karva Chauth originated when army wives were fasting for their husbands that were in the army and it somehow caught up on other wives. Don’t know how much truth is in that.

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    1. the army wife thing comes from Wikipedia I guess. I have never heard about it. The traditional karva chauth story is very different which I have heard. It is not our festival but I have heard the story a long time ago. I don’t know whether it is a punjabi story other north Indian communities may have a different story. The story is
      as follows

      http://www.karwachauth.com/karwa-chauth-story.html

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      1. Yes, the story about the queen, the maid, and the king… But even in this story, the holiday is already established as a holiday for a married woman. So I’m on the hunt for a deeper origin. Otherwise, this whole holiday just feels more like a parable than having some original significance.

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