Various Legends of Karwa Chauth
The Legend of Karwa
There are three different stories about Karwa Chauth.
A woman named Karwa was deeply devoted to her husband. Her intense love and dedication towards him gave her shakti (spiritual power). While bathing at a river, her husband was caught by a crocodile. Karwa bound the crocodile with a cotton cloth and asked Yama (the god of death) to send the crocodile to hell. However, Yama refused. Karwa threatened to curse Yama and destroy him. Yama, afraid of being cursed by Pati-vrat (a devoted) wife, sent the crocodile to hell and blessed Karwa ‘s husband with long life. Karwa and her husband enjoyed many years of wedded bliss. To this day, Karwa Chauth is celebrated with great faith and belief.
The Story of Queen Veervati
A beautiful queen called Veervati was the only sister of seven loving brothers. She spent her first Karwa Chauth as a married woman at her parents’ house. She began a strict fast after sunrise but, by evening, was desperately waiting for the moonrise as she suffered severe thirst and hunger. Her seven brothers couldn’t bear to see their sister in such distress and created a mirror in a pipal tree that made it look as though the moon had risen. The sister mistook it for the moon and broke her fast. The moment she ate, word arrived that her husband, the king, was dead. Heartbroken, she wept through the night until her shakti compelled a Goddess to appear and ask why she cried. When the queen explained her distress, the Goddess revealed how she had been tricked by her brothers and instructed her to repeat the Karwa Chauth fast with complete devotion. When Veervati repeated the fast, Yama was forced to restore her husband to life.
In a variant of this story, the brothers build a massive fire behind a mountain instead and trick their sister by convincing her that the glow is the moon. She breaks her fast and word arrives that her beloved husband has died. She immediately begins running to her husband’s house, which is somewhat distant, and is intercepted by Shiva-Parvati. Parvati reveals the trickery to her, cuts her own little finger to give the wife a few drops of her holy blood, and instructs her to be careful in keeping the complete fast in the future. The wife sprinkles Parvati’s blood on her dead husband and, coming back to life, they are reunited.
The Legend of Mahabharata
The belief in this fast and its associated rituals goes back to the pre-Mahabharata times. Draupadi, too, is said to have observed this fast. Once Arjun went to the Nilgiris for penance and the rest of the Pandavas faced many problems in his absence. Draupadi, out of desperation, remembered Lord Krishna and asked for help. Lord Krishna reminded her that on an earlier occasion, when Goddess Parvati had sought Lord Shiva’s guidance under similar circumstances, she had been advised to observe the fast of Karwa Chauth. In some tellings of this legend, Shiva tells Parvati the story of Veervati to describe the Karwa Chauth fast. Draupadi followed the instructions and observed the fast with all its rituals. Consequently, the Pandavas were able to overcome their problems.
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