The essence of fasting

Karva Chauth is an important annual religious festival of fast observed by Hindu married ladies. It is observed from sunrise till moonrise on the fourth day after the full moon in Kartik month of the Hindu calendar (falling generally in October or November) for the long life, good health, and well-being of their husbands.

This festival finds its earliest mention in the Mahabharata. Once when Arjuna went off to the Nilgiri mountains in order to pray to the gods and perform penance, and did not return for several days, his wife Draupadi sought out Lord Krishna's assistance in desperation. He advised her to observe fast of Karva Chauth for her husband's well-being, and also revealed that on an earlier occasion, when goddess Parvati had faced a similar situation, she had pleaded with god Shiva for help.

Shiva counseled that married women ought to fast on the fourth day of the dark-fortnight of the Kartika month to keep such problems and worries at bay. After hearing this account, Draupadi also kept fast observing all its rituals carefully; and soon Arjuna returned home.

There are several other stories too related to this festival, the most prominent of them is the one that goes with the legend of queen Veeravati.

But have we really understood the true rssence of this festival? Like all other fasts, this fast too has at its heart a spiritual significance. Spirituality, in one way or the other, courses through each and every part of our nation. Our festivals, rituals, fasts, etc. were all conceived with the inherent purpose of self-uplift and as an onward step towards self and God-realisation.

But with the passage of time, we forgot their real purpose and became entangled in the outer rites and rituals.

The point here is that on this pious day, the womenfolk undertaking this fast should ideally spend the day in the sweet remembrance of the Lord and not fritter away this precious opportunity. It is a day to ponder and go through a journey within and reflect on the importance of fasting.


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