When is Karva Chauth in 2017, why do Hindu women fast until they see the moon and what is sargi?

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Among the many festivals celebrated in the Hindu calendar, an important one for married women is Karwa Chauth, which sees them fast all day on Sunday October 8 for the safety and longevity of their husbands.

What is the story behind the fast, why is it celebrated and what foods do women eat to prepare for the day.

 Hindu women wait until they see the moon to eat during Karva Chauth

Getty – Contributor
Hindu women wait until they see the moon to eat during Karva Chauth

What is Karwa Chauth and what is sargi?

Married Hindu women will observe a nirjala, or fast, to pray for the long lives of their husbands.

They will wake up at sunrise to eat sargi, a meal which is prepared by their mothers in law.

It mostly consists of dry fruits, coconut and also involve gifts such as jewellery.

Once this meal is over, they will remain without food or water all day, until they see the moon.

Women will also pray to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Lord Kartik.

In the evening, women perform a puja, offer foods to the deities and pray for the safety and longevity of their husbands.

When the moon has been spotted, women will look at the moon and their husbands through a sieve, and the men will offer their wives water to break their fast.

 Hindu women wake early to eat sargi before observing the day long fast

Getty – Contributor
Hindu women wake early to eat sargi before observing the day long fast

What other traditions and rituals are involved?

Before viewing the moon, women will hold a community ceremony, where they will adorn red sarees or lehengas and sit in a circle telling stories and singing songs.

Women will pray to clay idols of the goddess Parvati to bless their husbands and family, and offer foods to the deity.

 Karva Chauth is seen as a way for Hindu women to bond

Getty – Contributor
Karva Chauth is seen as a way for Hindu women to bond

What is the story behind Karwa Chauth?

The most well known story which explains the significance of Karwa Chauth starts with a queen named Veervati, who was the only sister among seven brothers.

Married off at a young age, she celebrated her first day-long fast at her parents’ home, but was desperate for the moon to come out so she could eat and drink again.

Her brothers couldn’t bear to see her suffering, so created a mirror to make it look like the moon had risen.

When she broke her fast in error, she received a message saying her husband was dead, and was heartbroken, weeping all night.

After speaking to a goddess who appeared to her, she asked to observe the fast again with dedication so she could see her husband alive.

Her wish was granted, and Yama, the God of death, brought her husband back to life.

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