VRATHA – a Sanskrit word that is often used across India in various dialects and languages to signify ‘fasting’, means a ‘sacred vow’ in its truest translation. The Hindu in contemporary times, very much like their brothers and sisters from antiquity, offer a range of prayers, mantras, gifts and sacrifices to their Hindu Pantheon. With each day of the week ascribed to a specific God, Goddess and/or Lord (for example the Planets are Lords and not Gods), the devout Hindu finds her/him-self keeping a range of ‘vrathas’ throughout the week, month and year. This keeping of a sacred vow is intimately connected with the idea within Hindu life that, the body is the greatest vessel for the Soul, the greatest tool for progress within one’s material as well spiritual life and it is the greatest offering to the Divine.
It is with this attitude that all Vrathas must be approached. Karva-Chauth is a manifestation of this philosophy in the specific context of Husband and Wife, Consort and Protector. When man and woman become one in front of the sacred fire in a Vedic ceremony, they are making a sacred vow to support and protect one another in this lifetime. Helping each other achieve the greatest heights within the material and spiritual realms. Thereby assisting one another in their journey of completing and fulfilling their karmic-debts in a safe partnership founded on love and respect.
Karva-Chauth is the day, when the wife formally re-affirms her vow to protect the life of her husband. By fasting from grains, water, salt and any and all foodstuffs from sunrise to moonrise, she is disconnecting her body from the fire of digestion. Allowing the air and earth elements within her body to move, ground and balance the negative energies. The day is spent in togetherness as women across generations share their wisdom and experiences through folktales and songs. The day culminates in communal prayer. The women sit in a circle, symbolising never-ending life, and glorify the female aspect of the divine, asking her for blessings and protection. The married women in complete adornment celebrate with their community. Finally breaking their fasts in a Moon ceremony with water and sweets, the day is seen as a success, as they honour their bond with their husbands.