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Friday, December 9, 2022

Karwa Chauth special: the marital story of Raja Aja and Rani Indumati

Karwa Chauth is a fast mainly observed by married women, particularly in the northern states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh. Karwa Chauth is celebrated during the Krishna Paksha Chaturthi of the Kartik month as per the Purnimanta calendar and Ashwin month as per the Amanta calendar. Dharam Sindhu, Nirnayasindhu and Vratraj mention Karwa Chauth as Karaka Chaturthi.

The Karwa Chauth fast and puja is mainly dedicated to Maa Parvati who is Akhand Saubhagyavati. Bhagwan Shiva, Sri Kartikeya, and Shri Ganesh are also worshipped along with Devi. Women worship Devi Gaura and Chauth Mata on this day. Women observe nirjal (without drinking water) fast which is broken after sighting the moon and offering arghya to Chandradev.    

“Both Karaka and Karwa refer to the small pitcher which is used during Puja and given as charity or Dan for the wellbeing of the family. It is mentioned that only women have the right to perform fasting on Karwa Chauth as the fasting benefits of Karaka Chaturthi fructify to women only. The fasting on Karwa Chauth is done not only for the well-being and long life of the husband but also for the sons, grandsons, wealth and everlasting prosperity of the family”, says Drikpanchang.

The story of Raja Aja and Indumati is one of those ideal marital stories that need to be told in today’s society where western concepts are substituting Dharmic values.

Raja Aja belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty and was Raja Dashrath’s father. He got married Rajkumari Indumati who became his queen. Once Aja and Indumati had gone on a trip to the forest. According to beliefs, Maharishi Narad was on his way to play veena for Gokarnanath. The queen died after flowers that flew over Narad Muni’s veena fell on her heart killing her instantly. The king’s state of mind and extreme sorrow following his queen’s death highlight the ideal husband-wife relationship.

Kalidas says:

वपुषा करणोंज्झितेन सा निपतन्ति पतिमप्ययातयत

ननु तैलनिषेकबिन्दुना सह दीपाचिरुपैति मेदिनीम

Meaning: when the queen began falling as her organs were failing, she was taking her husband down along with her just like the wick of a lamp falls on the earth along with droplets of dripping oil.

As the queen was losing her life, Raja Aja’s lament has been described very beautifully by Kalidas. “Why have you forsaken me when I have never even dreamt of doing so? I’m king only in name, my actual identity is associated with and my heart belongs to you”, the king laments. He further says “you are my wife, my advisor, my friend during my lonely times, and a student of my arts. Death has taken you away from me but why has death not taken me along?”

The manner in which Kalidas has woven this story, it comes across as a story of conjugal love, which needs to be read in today’s material time, in this era where couples want to separate over small matters, and this kinds of tales should be woven into stories that reach the masses teaching them the value of love and living a fulfilled life.

When it comes to love stories, the tales of Laila Majnu, Shiri Farhad, Sohni Mahiwal, and Romeo Juliet are the only ones presented to our youth. These are tales devoid of a sense of duty and completeness that we see in the stories of Aja-Indumati, Prabhu Ram-Maa Sita, and Bhagwan Shiva-Maa Sati.

In the story of Aja and Indumati, there is love and separation, and there is also a sense of duty of Raja Aja’s duty towards his son and his people. He brings up Raja Dasharatha after the passing away of his queen. There is no mention of a second marriage, so those who propagate the myth of polygamy as a norm among Kshatriyas in Bharat should read the stories of Prabhu Shri Ram and his grandfather Raja Aja.

There are several such stories of marital relationships and love that need to be taken to society.    

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