Dressed in colorful salwar suits and saris, henna on their palms, bangles on their wrists and a decorated thali in their hands, Indian American women gathered to celebrate Karva Chauth on Oct. 24.
The one-day festival is observed annually by married women in which they observe a fast from sunrise to moonrise and pray for the well-being and longevity of their husbands. It is said that this festival began when women started praying for the safe return of their husbands who went to fight wars in far-off lands. It also marks the end of the harvest season.
For many it’s a day of fasting in celebration of love, marriage and partnership, a ritual that not only brings couples closer together but also the women who perform the puja together, giving it a social and romantic connotation. Some host Karva Chauth parties either to break the fast or a day earlier to apply henna or early morning the day of the fast to eat the sargi. The husband fasts along with his wife and buys her expensive gifts.
In Dallas, Texas, Chander and Preeta Monga celebrated the festival with over 50 women at their home. The saas and bahu duo has been hosting Karva Chauth for the past 30 years. “The holiday is a rare opportunity for mothers and daughters-in-law to team up and celebrate together,” Preeta Monga told American Kahani. “According to North Indian tradition, women decorate their thalis, adorn themselves with clothing and jewelry, meet with friends, and pray for their husband’s long lives,” she added. “They pass their thalis clockwise as they recite songs, listen to stories, and build lifelong friendships.”
Scenes like the ones in the Monga household were seen all across the country. Sonia Sharma, of Hillsborough, New Jersey and her friends went to the Durga temple in Princeton, to perform the Karva Chauth pooja. In neighboring South Brunswick, New Jersey, Harmeen Dandona had few of her friends over. The ladies performed the rituals and spent the evening catching up with their families and posing for photos.