When Savita Chouhan walked out of her house in a traditional Indian lehenga, as blue as the sky, resplendent jewellery shimmering on her neck and wrists, a golden tikka on her forehead, with a bright red streak of sindoor peeping from under it, her neighbours – who had never seen Savitha in such ethnic attire — squealed in excitement.
“She looked like an angel, a beautiful Indian bride,” said Julia, her Australian friend and neighbour.
And that’s when Savitha told her about Karva Chauth, the sacred Indian ritual where wives pray for the well-being, prosperity and long life of their husbands.
With the world turning into a global village, Karva Chauth, which has been celebrated in India from centuries, is now observed with enthusiasm, gaiety and fervour across the globe.
On Karva Chauth, wives observe a fast through the day, which they break only after they look at the moon’s reflection in a thali or plate of water, or through a sieve. “The occasion signifies the extreme love and devotion of a wife to her husband — or partner as is the case sometimes these days — as a voluntary willingness to suffer for his well being,” says Savitha.
Karva Chauth, explains Savitha, is celebrated on the chaturthi tithi after the full moon in the month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar. According to religious scriptures like the Dharma Sindhu, Nirnay Sindhu and other shastras or rules that govern the festival, Karva Chauth is to be observed at moonrise (chandrodaya vyapini).
This festival has grown in popularity over the years, and nowadays, women from different Indian religions and sections of society observe this fast and pray for their husbands.
“In an era when most traditions are losing their sheen, Karva Chauth has emerged as a much sought after festival among both, married women and unmarried girls in long-term relationships. Gen X finds Karva Chauth an occasion to express their feelings for their loved ones. It’s nice to see that long hectic working hours, and tiring routines have not dampened the spirit of the tradition,” says Harpreet Kour from Parramatta, who migrated to Sydney only two months ago to join her husband.
In modern times, Karva Chauth has gone hi-tech, and couples, who are away from each other on this auspicious day, use technology to see their partners.
Shivani, a newlywed, says, “Now you can see your partner even while he is sitting thousands of miles away from you. This Karva Chauth, my husband had gone to Perth to attend a meeting, so could not make to Sydney on this day, but thanks to Skype, I broke my fast after seeing my husband online,” she says.
Karva Chauth was observed across the world on 22 October.