Karva is another word for pot (a small earthen pot of water) and chauth means fourth in Hindi (a reference to the fact that the festival falls on the fourth day of the darkfortnight, or krishna paksh, of the month of Kartik). It is uncertain how the festival originated and how it came to be celebrated only in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. One hypothesis is that military campaigns and longdistance travel usually resumed around the time of the festival, as the area dried and numerous rivers of the region (see Sapta Sindhu) subsided from the effects of the monsoon. Women observed the fast to pray for the safety of their husbands at this time as they ventured away from home. The festival coincides with the wheatsowing time (i.e., the beginning of the Rabi crop cycle). Big earthen pots in which wheat is stored are sometimes called Karvas, so the fast may have begun as a prayer for a good harvest in this predominantly wheateating region.