Karva Chauth continues to captivate Indian women (Lead)

October 7th, 2009 - 5:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) A day when married Hindu women fast till sundown to pray for their husbands’ long life and prosperity, Karva Chauth is a much awaited festival in North India. This year, too, there is palpable excitement in the air.
As per custom, married women usually start fasting from sunrise. Before they start the fast, they partake of the traditional sargi, usually a gift from their mother-in-law, which consists of dry fruits, seviyan (vermicelli), paranthas, kheer and the like. Once the sun has risen, they are forbidden to touch even a drop of water till they have performed their prayers.

It is only once they see the moon and offer it water that they are allowed to eat or drink. Add to this a romantic touch - a lot of women first see the moon and then their husbands’ face. The husbands then place the first morsel of food in their mouth and also shower them with gifts, a fact immortalised in innumerable Bollywood movies.

In recent times Karva Chauth has become a large-scale event in North India. Women team up with friends and neighbours to attend their neighbourhood puja. Apart from the ritualistic aspect, there is much singing, joyousness and merry-making at these gatherings.

“This is my first Karva Chauth. My mother-in-law insisted it should be a grand affair. So all of yesterday we were shopping and got henna designs done at Lajpat Nagar Market,” Anupama Verma, 27, said.

Recently engaged Saakshi Bahl is thrilled at the thought of celebrating her first Karva Chauth and says: “Both my own parents and my in-laws have inundated me with gifts and jewellery. I’m so excited about it that I don’t think I will feel any discomfort about fasting the entire day.”

These days, many unmarried girls too keep the fast in the hope of finding a good husband.

Karva Chauth is also a time for shop keepers to rake in business. Most marketplaces in the capital are abuzz with henna artists, vendors selling traditional thaalis containing the roli (vermilion), sacred water, earthen clay pots, and diyas, bangles, traditional red and gold dupattas and saris.

“I prefer getting traditional mehendi but my mother-in-law got the minimal Arabic designs. The only sore point was haggling with the artists who overcharge - it cost me Rs.150 a hand and normally it’s just Rs.30,” said Kritika Sharma, a mother of two.

Local sweet shops also do brisk business during this time of the year as well as traditional vegetarian eateries.

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