Different customs are followed on Karwa Chauth. Here are some common practices followed by many.
Karwa Chauth – Before Fast Rituals
Women rise early in the morning before sun-rise around 4 AM and prepare food to have before fast. They worship Shiva and his family – Maa Gauri (Parvati), Ganesh and Kartikeya and the moon to seek blessings for a successful fast. Goddess Parvati is believed to be the symbol of eternal marital bliss. She took birth several times and in every incarnation she obtained Shiva as her husband.
Godess Parvati is considered akhanda saubhagyawati (The one, whose husband is alive). Through moon, the wife invokes Parvati so that she bestows her to attain same marital bliss.
Karwa Chauth – Meal Before Fast
The pre fast meal is known as sargi (The food usually given by the mother-in-law to her daughter-in-law). Sargi consists of extremely appetizing and delicious dishes dry fruits, nuts, sweets, cereal and fruits. The Karwa Chauth fast begins before sun rise, after a woman consumes sargi.
Women stay nirjalahaari during the day. i.e. they dont consume food and water during the fast.
Karwa Chauth Festivity
During the day, Ladies gather, apply henna on their hands and feet with beautiful designs. They prepare for the evening puja at a common place. Before evening, as per customs, fasting lady sends baayna/ baya. i.e. gifts like fruits, sweets, saree and other suhaag pitari (goods for marriage-hood) for her mother-in-law and sis-in-law(s).
Karwa Chauth Dressing
As the evening approaches, women do 16 shringaar (16 steps of make-up) and dress up like a bride.
Read about the preparations for Karwa Chauth in detail
Karwa Chauth Evening Puja
Women gather to a common place for worship Goddess Parvati with a karwa (special mud pot) which is filled with water/ milk, Goddess Parvati idol, food grains etc. Some women place panch ratna (5 types of metals like iron, brass, silver etc).
The image of Maa Gauri (Goddess Parvati) is drawn on the worship place. In olden days, women made the idol of the Goddess using the clay. Women place Baya/ Baayna on the Puja thaali. Kalaawa (Auspicious Red thread) is tied around the karwa. Women create swaastik mark with the help of roli and rice on karwa. Teeka is applied on the image of the Goddess before starting the Puja. All the women also apply sindoor on their foreheads and hair partition. Sindoor is the symbol of marriage-hood.
An elderly lady of the group narrates the legend and significance of Karwa Chauth. While listening to the story, women light the diya (earthen lamp) in their thaali and worship the deities. After this, the thaali is passed on to the eldest lady of the gathering who blesses all women.
Karwa Chauth Puja Thaali
At dusk, sometime around sun-set, women return to their homes, prepare delicious food and wait for the moon-rising. A puja thaali is prepared with a chhanni (sieve) and karwa for the event.
The thaali or plate can be of either brass, steel or silver. The Puja thali usually consists of roli, rice, glass filled with water, and earthen lamp, dry fruits, sweets. The saamagri (the materials) are also kept in separate small bowls to prevent roli and rice from spreading in the thaali. Thaali is also decorated with flowers, petals, and leaves. Karwa filled with water is required to offer water to the moon. Metal pots or vessels can also be used. Chhanni is placed on top of the thaali to sight the moon and then the husband. A cloth is required to cover the thaali.
Karwa Chauth – End Of Fast
Women gather on the terrace or any place where moon can be sighted. After sighting moon, women offer prayers to the moon seven times. It is a tradition not to see the moon directly but see its reflection through a thaali filled with water, dupatta or a sieve. The fasting lady offers water to the moon to seek its blessings. She prays for the prosperity, welfare and longevity of her husband and family. She next sees her husband’s face, who offers her food to break her day-log fast.