For ease of understanding, let’s focus on the more widely publicized karva chauth. The etymology of Karva Chauth is largely unknown, although bolstered by many possible hypotheses. One theory states that this was the time of year (on the 4th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Kartik) that travel away from home and military campaigns commenced, which led women to fast for their husband’s well-being. The festival also coincides with the beginning of the rabi crop cycle, and hence may have also been a form of prayer for a good harvest, given the transactional nature between deity and devotee in Hinduism, where striking bargains and ‘bribing’ deities is acceptable practice. While Karva Chauth is predominantly a Northern and North-western ritual, it exists in numerous variations all over India (it is less pervasive in the North-east), but always involves women fasting for male kin–specifically, spouses.
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