Karadaiyan Nombu in South India, is also called ‘Savithri Vratham’ and is the most important festival for married women in South India, the Tamil Brahmins. This fast was maintained by Savithri for her husband Satyavan, who was to be whisked away by God of Death, Lord Yama! It is believed that the lady was so deeply devoted and loyal to her husband that she could pray and fast for her husband right amid the woods, and, and retrieve her husband from the merciless clutches of Lord Yama! The first day of the month of ‘Panguni’ after the month of ‘Masi’ usually on 14th March of every year, is observed as this Vratham or Karadaiyan Nonbu. The word ‘Karadaiyan’ is derived from the naivedyam offered in prayer, first eaten and then served to their husbands, by married women. The sweet and salted versions are called ‘Thithippu Karadai’ (sweet version) and ‘Uppadai’ ( the salted version) .
Karva Chouth in North India is akin to Karadaiyan Nonbu in South India: Similar to Karadaiyan Nonbu in South India, there is a fasting festival for all married women in North India, very popular and of great significance in UP< Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal, Haryana and Punjab. The only difference being the month that it is celebrated and the fasting time and method by the women. While in South India on ‘Karadaiyan Nonbu’ the married women fast, for the longevity of their husbands, till the time for puja ( may be anytime as stipulated by the pujari or pandit), and can comfortably have liquids or milk or tea, not so strictly followed like the North Indian women ; the North Indian women fast for the longevity of their husbands from sunrise to moonrise, without even drop of water!
Savithri Satyavan story and Karadaiyan nonbu: Impressed by the Piety, dedication, and exemplary oratory skills of Savithri a beautiful and accomplished woman, Lord Yama offered her three boons and she cleverly asked for restoring the eyesight of her blind father-in-law, a Hundred sons to her father, and a Hundred sons to her, by her husband Satayavan, who was to die 3 days after their marriage, thus tactfully got her husband back, with strict fasting and prayers.
Karadaiyan Nonbu fasting in South India: Is observed at a particular time on that day, which has to be religiously followed by all the Tami Brahmin married ladies. The unmarried girls too pray for getting good husbands. Fasting is observed by married women, not spinsters.
Karadai and Karamani in Karadaiyan Nonbu: The sweet and salted version of Karadai or the Prasadam or the only meal Item for the ladies who observe the Fast or Vratham, is made from rice flour, jaggery , cardamoms and chopped coconut pieces, while the salted version is made with rice flour, coconut, asafetida and chillies and curry leaves.
The most Important Ingredient in Karadai is the herb called ‘Karamani’ a red lentil that is symbolic of Savithri’s fasting in the woods, where herbs are aplenty.
Karadaiyan Nonbu Naivedyam : Besides Karadais, the fasting Naivedyam on ‘Karadaiyan Nonbu’ also consists of white unsalted butter, Vetrilai ( betel leaves), Pakku ( supari), pazham ( bananas) and coconut.
Ritual differences in Karadaiyan Nonbu in South India and Karva Chauth in North India: In North India ,the married women eat early in the morning before sunrise and the special meal or sweet dishes are usually made by the mother in law , they bathe and pray and wear bright red saris wear jewelry apply mehendi or henna in their hands, and thereafter, do not even drink water, till they see the moon. UP the ladies take milk, sugar etc in the morning so they can withstand thirst all day
Cashews, lamp and silk dupatta Sargi for Karva Chauth
Sargi for Karva Chauth milk, sweets and lamp
The plate that is to be taken for evening puja before the moon appears is called ‘Sargi’ in Punjab and in. The puja plate usually has a lamp, sweets and some dry fruits and fruits, once the moon is spotted the fast is broken by consuming water fed by the husbands, and some sweet given to regain lost energy.
In South India, on Karadaiyan Nonbu day, the women bathe and adorn themselves in silk saris , some in Madisar or nine yards, wear jewelry and bangles, and mehendi application is more optional. They do the puja at the time specified by the solar calendar, pray for the longevity of their husbands, offer the naivedyam to Goddess Kamakshi Amman,
Goddess Kamakshi Amman karadai placed with butter and Nonbu saradu on plantain leaves
wear the yellow thread with jasmine slung at the center, around their necks as if newly married, and eat the hot karadais with butter melting on them ,all placed on a plantain leaf… While wearing the ‘Nonbu Charadu’ or the yellow thread, they chant the following ‘Urugadha Vennayam oru adayum vaithu nonbu notren oru nallum en kanavar piriyamal iruka vendum’ which translates thus ‘Just like the melting butter over steaming adais, the woman and her husband must remain bonded for life, inseparable!’
Karva Chauth in North India – the name: ‘Karva’ means pot , and Chauth ( means fourth in Hindi), which is observed on the fourth day of the dark days after full moon day or Poornima. The women pour water from the pot ( Karva) into the soil and do puja and then using a sieve they see the moon and the faces of their husbands through it.
North Indian ladies look the moon through the sieve on Karva Chauth
The women then enjoy singing and eating a sumptuous meal with an elaborate menu along with their families.
The beginning of Karadaiyan Nonbu, in South India, yellow thread at a marriage hall : The first time a woman wears the yellow thread is when she first gets married at a hall, amid Vedic chanting and music, and blessings of all, when her groom ties the thread around her neck.
This can be witnessed at any South Indian Wedding, at any of the Kalyana Mandapams or halls in Chennai.
The spirit and essence of Karadaiyan Nonbu and Karva Chauth is one: Fasting by married women for the welfare and longevity of their husbands.