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Karwa Chauth is a Hindu festival that is primarily celebrated by married Hindu women. On this day, married Hindu women keep Nirjala fast, which means fasting even without consumption of water, from sunrise to sunset. The reason behind this fast is to pray for their husband's life, health, and safety.
According to the Hindu calendar, Karwa Chauth is celebrated on the fourth day after Purnima in the month of Kartik.
On this day, married Hindu women dress in new clothes (preferably red because signifies a happy married life) and apply henna to their hands. At the same time, women observing this fast get together to celebrate it by narrating the Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha and singing folk songs, which make this a lot more lively. Some women also worship Goddess Parvati in the Karwa Chauth puja followed by Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Kartikeya. And, the fast is later broken after having a glimpse of the moon.
Married Hindu women have gathered to perform the Karwa Chauth puja.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
Interestingly, there are many stories related to Karwa Chauth. Some of them are:
Story of Queen Veervati
This is the most interesting story. There was a queen named Veervati, who was the only sister amongst seven brothers. She spent her first Karva Chauth as a married woman at her parents' house. She began to fast after sunrise but by evening, she was desperately waiting for the moon to rise because she couldn't control her thirst and hunger any longer. Seeing this, her brothers became worried because their beloved sister was suffering from thirst and hunger. So, they begged her to break the fast but she refused. Seeing her in distress, the brothers tricked her by placing a round mirror in a Pipal tree, which made it look like the moon had risen. So, Veervati fell for her brothers' tricks and broke her fast, and the moment she sat down to eat, news came that her husband is dead. This is the reason why married Hindu women observe such a tough fast for their husband's life.
Story of Karwa Chauth in Mahabharata
Interestingly, it is believed that Draupadi also observed the fast of Karwa Chauth for the safety and long life of her five husbands. Once, when Arjun had gone for penance in the Nilgris, the rest of the Pandavas faced many issues in his absence. That was when Draupadi remembered Lord Krishna for his help, and he reminded her that in a similar situation, Goddess Parvati had kept the fast for Lord Shiva. Inspired by this, Draupadi too kept the fast of Karva Chauth for her five husbands. Since then it was believed that the Pandavas were able to face every problem.
Therefore, Karwa Chauth is celebrated by married Hindu women all across the world with full enthusiasm. Though, there is a sect now that has started calling this age-old ritual “patriarchal".
Keywords: Hinduism, Women, Karwa Chauth, Festivals, Patriarchy.
On the ninth day of the Navratri celebrations, Ayudha Pooja is celebrated in Karnataka, where all the instruments of the household or shop are gathered together in one place and consecrated before the patron deity. This practice was carried out since the time of kings, briefly stopped during the British rule, and was reintroduced by the Wodeyars of Mysore.
The practice of anointing instruments is believed to have originated during the Kurukshethra war, when Arjuna placed his weapons in the Shami tree before using them in the war. He won the war after doing this, and so people do the same to their household objects believing that it holds great significance to their prosperity and success.
People in Karnataka apply turmeric and vermillion on household objects Image credit: wikimedia commons
During the time of the kings, weapons were gathered in one place, mounted on a royal elephant and taken to the patron temple. Here they would be rubbed with turmeric and vermillion, placed in the sanctum for a day, and retrieved on the last day of the Dasara festival. Even today, at the Mysore Palace, this is the practice. The palace weapons are taken to the nearby Chamundeshwari temple, where they are sanctified. They are brought back the next day and worshipped while they are hung on the palace walls. This is significant to the fact that the demon Mahishasura was slain with weapons blessed by goddess Chamundeshwari.
Offering prayers for books is believed to promote success in the acquisition of knowledge and wealth Image credit: wikimedia commons
In the villages of Karnataka, the sanctification process begins with the sacrifice of sheep. The blood of the animal is smeared on instruments that are imperative to livelihood, like bullock carts, farm equipment and so on. In the cities, vehicles, devices, and are prayed for and blessed, to express gratitude for their working. Ayudha Pooja is always observed the day before the final day of celebration, Vijayadashmi.
Keywords: Ayudha Pooja, Navratri, Dasara, Mysore, Karnataka, Vijayadashmi
It is believed that Goddess Durga is the combined form of powers of Goddesses Lakshmi, Kali and Saraswati. Also, she protects her devotees from evil powers and safeguards them.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga was created by Lord Vishnu to fight the demon, Mahishasur.
It must be noted that Goddess Durga represents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation. As the Sanskrit word ‘Durga’ means fort or a place that is protected, therefore Goddess Durga, also called Divine Shakti, protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces.
As seen in sculptures and pictures, Goddess Durga is depicted as a warrior woman with eight hands, carrying weapons of different kinds with different mudras. Therefore, let us see what Goddess Durga represents.
Chakra in Goddess Durga’s first upper right hand symbolises dharma, meaning duty and righteousness. This denotes that we must perform our duties and responsibilities in life.
Conch in Goddess Durga’s first upper left hand symbolises happiness. This means that we must perform our duties happily and cheerfully and not with resentment.
Sword in Goddess Durga’s second right lower hand symbolises eradication of vices. This denotes that we must learn to discriminate and eradicate our evil qualities.
Bow and arrow in Goddess Durga’s second left lower hand symbolises character like Lord Rama. This means that when we face difficulties in our life, we should not lose our character, i.e. values.
Lotus Flower in Goddess Durga’s third lower left hand symbolises detachment. This denotes that we must live in the world without attachment to the external world. Just like the lotus flower stays in dirty water yet smiles and gives its beauty to others, we must also do the same.
Club in Goddess Durga’s third right lower hand is the symbol of Lord Hanuman, and symbolises devotion and surrender. This means that whatever we do in our life, we must do it with love and devotion , and accept the outcome as the Almighty's will.
Trident/Trishul in Goddess Durga’s fourth left lower hand symbolises courage. This denotes that we must have the courage to eliminate our evil qualities and face the challenges which life gives us.
Fourth lower right hand symbolises forgiveness and Goddess Durga giving her blessings. This also denotes that we must forgive ourselves and others for all the mistakes and move forward in our lives.
At the same time, as Goddess Durga is always seen as riding on a lion or a tiger. Therefore, this symbolises unlimited power. Also, Goddess Durga is seen wearing a red saree, which denotes she is destroying all the evil forces and is protecting mankind from pain and suffering.
Keywords: Durga, Navratri, Devotion, Hindu Mythology, Hinduism.
Navratri is a nine-day festival that is solely dedicated to Goddess Durga. This festival is amongst the prominent Hindu festivals which are celebrated in different regions with different names. The word 'Navratri' in Sanskrit means nine nights. Therefore, for nine days, 'Nine Forms of Maa Durga' is worshipped.
Interestingly, Navratri falls four times a year, but only two out of them are celebrated, namely Chaitra Navratri (March-April) and Sharad Navratri (September-October).
Sharad Navratri is celebrated in order to mark the victory of good over evil. The reason behind this is because, for nine long days, Goddess Durga fought the battle with demon king 'Mahishasura' and killed him, marking the victory of good over evil.
Nine days, Nine forms of Goddess Durga, and Colours related to them
It must be noted that each day of these nine days is dedicated to the nine forms of Goddess Durga. At the same time, each day is associated with a different colour.
The first day is dedicated to Goddess Shailputri, who is known as the daughter of the mountains. This day is associated with yellow colour, which is said to bring brightness, happiness, and cheer to our lives. It must be noted that Goddess Shailputri symbolizes Mother Nature and her favourite flower is Jasmine.
Goddess Shailputri.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
The second day is dedicated to Goddess Brahmacharini. This day is associated with green colour, which is said to bring renewal, nature, and energy.
The third day is dedicated to Goddess Chandraghanta. This day is associated with grey colour as it is believed that on this day, Goddess carries the half-moon on her forehead during the night with grey clouds. This day symbolizes zeal and determination to destroy evil.
Goddess Chandraghanta.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
The fourth day is dedicated to Goddess Khushmanda. Interestingly, Goddess Khushmanda is also referred to as the "smiling goddess". Hence, this day is associated with the cheerful orange colour as it represents brightness, happiness, and positive energy.
Goddess Khushmanda.Phot by Wikimedia Commons.
The fifth day is dedicated to Goddess Skandamata. This day is associated with white colour, which is said to bring purity, peace and meditation in one's life.
Goddess Skandamata.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
The sixth day is dedicated to Goddess Katyayani. It is believed that Goddess Katyayani is the most powerful form of Goddess Durga as she is hailed as the warrior-goddess or Bhadrakali. Hence, being fierce in nature, she is represented by the colour red, which denotes the anger of the Goddess towards the enemies and fearlessness.
Goddess Katyayani.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
The seventh day is dedicated to Goddess Kalaratri. Interestingly, the word 'Kalaratri' means the one who is "the Death of Kaal". This day is associated with royal blue colour as it represents immense power.
Goddess Kalaratri.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
The eighth day is dedicated to Goddess Mahagauri. It is believed that Goddess Mahagauri has the power to fulfill all the desires of her devotees. Therefore, this day is associated with pink colour which represents hope, self-refinement, and social upliftment.
Goddess Mahagauri.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
The ninth and the last day is dedicated to Goddess Siddhidatri. The name is further made up of two names, 'Siddhi' meaning supernatural power and 'Dhatri' meaning the awarder. It is believed that Goddess Siddhidatri is a giver of knowledge and helps one achieve their aspirations. Hence, the day is associated with the purple colour, which represents ambition and power.
Goddess Siddhidatri.Photo by Wikimedia Commons
Keywords: Navratri, Festival, Durga, Hinduism, Celebration