Karva Chauth no longer remains a festival of North India only. It has now become a national festival, celebrated by married women throughout India. ‘Suhagins’ from the north India to the western and southern India celebrate it with equal gusto, verve and austerities.
The credit for bringing this unique festival to the national map goes to Bollywood films and TV serials. Films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Baghban, and TV serials like Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kasauti Zindagi Ki – to quote a few examples – have contributed to the immense popularity of this festival.
This great festival has many interesting legends and myths to back up its age-old socio-cultural import and message relevant to all times. In the Mahabharata, there appears a story in which Lord Krishna advises Draupadi to observe Karva Chauth for the safety of Arjuna who had once gone out for worship in the Nilgiri Hills. And then there is the famous legend of a woman named Karva who accosts Yama, and compels the King of the dead to restore her husband to life.
The myths and legends interspersed in the ancient texts and scriptures are a clear manifestation of woman’s Shakti (power). On this day, a married woman rededicates herself to her husband to reassure him that since the days of yore she has not relented in her confrontation with the earthly and celestial forces inimical to him.
On the eve of Karva Chauth, married women observe a Mehndi day. They adorn their hands and feet with henna, their forearms with new bangles, their hair with freshly bought vermilion, the essential symbols of Suhag.
Married woman also observe all austerities, remains without food and water on the day to accost Yama or any other adversary if he harbours any ill will against her husband. She continues to follow the path of dharma and karma. And there lies the significance of Karva Chauth, a festival that reiterates women’s power.