This traditional Indian festival, is celebrated by the Hindus and Sikhs in northern India, only by the women folk, who fast, worship and pray to God for the long life of their husbands. It is mostly celebrated in the states of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, where all married women fast from sunrise to moonrise, and break their fast after the first appearance of full moon in the sky. This tradition or ritual dates back to centuries, when the Rajput queens used to celebrate this festival or ritual, for the speedy and safe return of their husbands from the battlefield, after defeating the Mughals. This was marked by prayers and offerings to the lord, and the emergence of moon in the sky, which symbolizes something good, bright and prosperous. So, this festival is a show of love, affection, bonding and an unconditional sense of belonging to one’s better half. Preparations for this festival, starts at least a fortnight before the actual day, as women buy cosmetics, jewelry, sweets, new attires such as sarees, and also buy earthen pots and lamps for the ritual. The women even apply mehendi on their hands in the most decorative manner, and that brings about a festive feel. This is true devotion to the husband that is shown through the series of rituals and religious ceremonies, as performed by the wives, and also be the fiances.
Fast and Viewing the Full Moon
One thing that is typical of this traditional Hindu festival, is the fast that is kept by the women folk from dawn to dusk, and eventually, viewing the full moon, NOT the crescent or half-moon. The wife or the fiancee, either dresses up in a saree or in a lehenga choli, to portray a traditional look. Mostly, the young girls dress-up in salwar kameez, whereas the elderly women in printed or silk sarees, that are bought new. It is a truly colorful ambiance, as the sarees (Chiffon and Bandhani sarees), salwar suits and lehenga cholis worn by the women folk, oozes out a vibrant and refreshing look. It is mostly a community gathering, where the women gather in an open area, may be in a ground or on the terrace of a house, to view the full moon. Wearing glittering jewelry in the form of bangles, earrings and necklaces, the wives look really traditional, and they go about singing traditional folk songs, which is a custom or a ritual. In Punjab, the women wear beautiful Patiala suits and salwar suits with Phulkari dupatta, that looks exceptionally colorful. Cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jaipur etc. come alive during this day of the year. It is truly a festive atmosphere in north India, and one has to be here for getting a first-hand experience.