New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) Firecrackers went off at around 9 p.m. Friday as the moon finally showed up in the hazy night sky, to the great relief of the multitudes of fasting women in the Indian capital who were fasting for the long life of their husbands on Karva Chauth.
Some flyovers had an unusual spectacle in the evening - hundreds of couples all dressed in their best - looking skyward in the fervent hope of sighting the moon.
Cars and scooters were parked on the sides of flyovers, especially those located next to crowded residential colonies, and the couples stood patiently waiting to see the moon. Some women had brought along their karva chauth puja rituals - to worship the moon, after which they broke the fast.
Decked up in colourful traditional attire and jewellery and wearing henna designs on their hands, women across north India Friday celebrated Karva Chauth with a day-long fast for the long life of their husbands.
Married women offer prayers to the goddess Gauri Mata before ending the fast in the evening. Many unmarried girls also keep the fast.
"As per custom, women must observe a daylong fast. Between 5 to 7 p.m. they should offer prayers to the deity Gauri Mata and offer prayers for the long life of their husbands," Ravinder Nagar, priest at Laxmi Narayan temple - popularly known as Birla Mandir, told IANS.
The puja preparations include a picture of Gauri Mata, a karwa (earthenware pitcher containing water), cow dung cake, vermilion, the bayana thali (a plate full of savouries and sweets) and gifts.
Most women wake up before sunrise to eat the traditional sargi, a sweet made of milk and semolina. They fast the whole day, with some women not even drinking water, till the moon rises.
After dusk sets in, women gather on the terrace or verandahs of their homes and worship the moon after it rises. They then break their fast by receiving the first morsel of food from their husbands.
"This is a day to showcase unbound love not just our better-half. For me it is a day of love, bonding and togetherness, praying for the long life of my husband and sharing happiness is really exciting," Rama Sharma, working as a lab assistant, told IANS.
For Tanisha Sen, a Bengali married to a Punjabi, it is a day to cherish.
"Wearing my marriage day red sari, fine jewellery, with henna on my hands and the red chunni given by my mother-in-law on the wedding day... I feel like a bride on Karva Chauth," Sen said.
The markets in Delhi were full of people making last minute purchases - men buying sweets and gifts for their wives, and women making a beeline to beauty parlours to look their best.
Sanjana Bajaj, who tied the knot a month ago, said: "This is my first karva chauth. As I'm a foodie, this is the first time I kept a fast. My 55-year-old mother-in-law gave me encouragement to keep the fast."
However, it is not only women who are fasting. Some men also keep fast to show love and support for their wives.
"For the past eight years I have been fasting with my wife on this auspicious day. I don't feel like eating when my wife is remaining hungry the whole day," Rahul Koul, a bank employee said.