Women celebrate Karva Chauth

As per custom, women must observe a day long fast which is followed by evening rituals  including sitting around the deity Gaura Mata and a small clay pitcher called karva and offering prayers. Most women were up before sunrise to take the traditional sargi, a sweet made of milk and semolina. This will be followed by a tedious fast all day with some women even avoiding water. “This is my first Karva Chauth. My mother-in-law insisted it should be a grand affair. So all of yesterday we were shopping and got henna designs done at Lajpat Nagar Market,” Anupama Verma, 27, said.

“These days many women don't keep the fast and even I had a choice. My mother said that if I keep the fast this time I should be brave enough to follow tradition always,” Verma added. Beauty parlours were over-crowded and there was a beeline for all the popular henna artists. “I prefer getting traditional mehendi but my mother-in-law got the minimal Arabic designs. The only sore point was haggling with the artists who overcharge - it cost me Rs 150 a hand and normally it's just Rs 30,” said Kritika Sharma, a mother of two.

Intricate mehendi designs on the hands and feet, designer dresses and a new hairdo for the day were in demand. Markets were choc-a-block with shoppers making last minute purchases and going to mehendi walas and bangle sellers who also did brisk business and charged exorbitant rates. The puja preparations were ready with the traditional ritual items consisting of the Gaura Mata idol, karva (pitcher containing water), cow dung, tika, vermilion, the Bayana thali (plates) and gifts all in place. As the day wears on, women will participate in small rituals which involve circulating their Bayana thalis, containing mathris (savouries), almonds and some gifts. Songs specific to the festival will be sung in household and community gatherings.  The women will have to wait for the moon to rise before they can break their fast by taking the first morsel from the hands of their husband.

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