Karwa Chauth is a festival celebrated by mostly married hindu women by fasting from sunrise to moonrise for the prosperity and longevity of their husband. Guess that is something any man or woman who loves their spouse wishes for always, fasting or not. But as traditions go, its a beautiful festival celebrated without much logical background to it. And what i love most about festivals is how it unites families, and makes you take out time for each other out of the mundane. Woman dress up in their best avatar, for some reason they look much more beautiful from the regular, and are fed the first morsel of the day by the husband after moonrise.
I celebrated Karwa Chauth for the first time in 2004, when i had just met Garg, and deeply in love, and saw a few punjabi friends planning for the fast, and decided i will also fast along, and since then its the only fast i observe, and totally enjoy the dressing up. Guess i owe a lot to Karwa Chauth to converting me from the tomboy i was to the loving the dressing up lady, if i can say so myself.
Karwa Chauth rituals vary from state to state in North India, but overall some rituals stay the same, and i would like to talk about it, for the newbies looking for some guidelines for starters. Since its a gruelsome fast with restrictions of consumption of water too, its better ou are prepared beforehand to be ready to enjoy the festival. Plan your meal in advance, plan your sargi and enjoy the festival, dress up, get mehendi done, and spend some quality time with the spouse, given an opportunity, never miss it.
This year Karwa Chauth is on the 19th of October, i will be sharing the most essential food associated with Karwa Chauth, the sargi(punjabi word for a vermicilli pudding, made with thin vermicilli, or feni or soot feni), list down the rituals performed through the day, and how the sargi, fasting and the breaking of the fast is performed, later after the recipe.
- 1 roll of soot feni
- 1/2 ltr of whole milk
- 1/4 cup condensed milk
- 2 tbsp almond powder (10-12 almonds)
- 1 tbsp mixed crushed cashews, almonds, and raisins
- 3-4 strands of kesar / saffron.
- 1/2 tsp of ghee
- Keep all the ingredients ready, and a non stick saucepan to cook the feni.
- Heat the pan, add 1/4 tsp ghee, and gently crush the feni into it, and fry till few strands turn light brown, and some a little darker. Remove and set aside.
- in the same pan add 1/2 tsp of ghee, and add the nuts, and fry till light brown, remove and set aside.
- Now add the milk into the pan, and let it boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce to atleast a 3/4th.
- Now add the condensed milk, or 3-4 tbsp of sugar, and the almond powder.
- Now add the fried feni, and switch off the heat, and let it sit for few minutes before you serve it.
- Garnish with the fried nuts, serve hot or chilled, as you like it.
Karwa Chauth Vrat Rituals
A day before karwa chauth, women apply mehendi, so that its perfect in color on the day of Karwa chauth, when they would dress up.
The Karwa Chauth Vrat is performed on the chauth(fourth day after fool moon) of the month of kartik in the hindu calender(so iam told!). The day begins, early in the morning, like 4am, with the sargi i remember my mother in law telling me, taaron ki chaon mein, under the blanket of stars, when the sun hasn’t risen, women eat to their hearts content, mostly some paratha, or phulka with aloo gobhi sabzi and most importantly feni, or thin vermicilli kheer.
The mother in law sends a basket full of things to the daughter in law, in which mathri, and feni, and some cosmetics are essentials, cosmetics to dress up on the day, feni for the morning sargi, and the mathri that is the first food that the husband feeds the wife, when breaking the fast.
During the day, women gather to listen to the karwa chauth story, all dressed up, mostly in red, orange, or gold, considered auspicious colors for the day. Mostly in punjabis, woman sit in a circle, listen to some variation of the veervati story** and then take breaks, circulate their thali, until it comes back to them, and sing the song for the first 6 circles.
Aye katti naya teri naa, Kumbh chrakhra feri naa, Aar pair payeen naa, Ruthda maniyen naa, Suthra jagayeen naa,
Ve veero kuriye Karvara, Ve sarv suhagan Karvara
and then on the last and 7th, the song changes to
Aye katti naya teri nee, Kumbh chrakhra feri bhee, Aar pair payeen bhee, Ruthda maniyen bhee, Suthra jagayeen bhee,
Ve veero kuriye Karvara, Ve sarv suhagan Karvara.
In some families, women are allowed a cup of tea or milk after the story, but generally you do it the way you did it on your first karwa chauth, and hence, i observe fast till the moon is up and out.
Every family has a different menu to break the fast, but mostly the maa ki dal stays common, and for me, the menu at my friends place, where we mostly celebrate Karwa Chauth together, stays special, urad dal kachori, ma ki dal, aloo ki sabzi and jeera rice.
Karwa Chauth being one of my favorite festivals, wishing you all a happy karwa chauth, prepare well, keep yourself hydrated well a day before, and spend some quality time with the spouse, meetings or whatever, go for that dinner date if you don’t feel like cooking, i did that most of the first few years.
** A beautiful queen called Veervati was the only sister of seven loving brothers. She spent her first Karva Chauth as a married woman at her parents’ house. She began a strict fast after sunrise but, by evening, was desperately waiting for the moonrise as she suffered severe thirst and hunger. Her seven brothers couldn’t bear to see their sister in such distress and created a mirror in a pipal tree that made it look as though the moon had risen. The sister mistook it for the moon and broke her fast. The moment she ate, word arrived that her husband, the king, was dead. Heartbroken, she wept through the night until her shakti compelled a Goddess to appear and ask why she cried. When the queen explained her distress, the Goddess revealed how she had been tricked by her brothers and instructed her to repeat the Karva Chauthfast with complete devotion. When Veervati repeated the fast, Yama was forced to restore her husband to life.