My wife Sonali applying a vermilion TIKA on my forehead after finishing the prayers and other rituals to the Moon God.
The ritual of touching feet is a kind of respect shown to elders and in some instances also means that the person touching the feet loves you so much that he/she is willing to share the burden of your sins.
All married women with their Thalis as they start the prayers for the long life of their husbands.
This is a festival for all the married women and is mostly celebrated in the North Indian states. Some overzealous Moms put their unmarried daughters through this very tough whole-day fasting ritual. Karva Chauth is celebrated according to the Hindu calendar and falls on the fourth day after full moon in the month of Kartik.
On this day women get up before sunrise bathe, pray, eat some sweets normally Ghevar (a vermicelli kind of thing with milk) and drink water - this is supposed to last them till almost 10.00pm when the moon rises and they offer their prayers for the long and healthy life of their husbands. Women dress in almost bridal like splendor usually in red and are bedecked with jewelry. Rituals involve story-telling, passing a tray around while singing hymns, lighting Lamps with clarified butter and finally offering water to the Moon God while praying for the longevity of their husbands.
In addition to all this the woman's day is spent in cooking dishes particular for this festival. Things like Aloo-Tamatar (potatoes & tomatoes), Poori (fried wholewheat bread), Kachories (pooris stuffed with spiced lentils), Arvi (taro roots), Kaddu Bhaji (pumpkin), Rice Kheer (rice pudding), Puas (wholewheat and jaggery fried dumplings), Dahiwadas (fried lentil dumplings in yogurt).
I personally find it a little bizarre since all widows, divorcees and unmarried women are excluded from this act and also find it to be a sexist kind of festival where the women go through all this for their spouse and the husband never does a thing like this in return for his wife. Maybe it was an accepted form of love when man was the sole bread earner and the protector of the family. But in today's world when women are in step with men on all fronts it seems a little silly.
I will be posting the recipes for a couple of the dishes served that day on this blog later.