Many a married lady across India, and even those living outside the country, of Indian origin, will be fasting today on the occasion of Karvachauth.
Popularly it is believed that if the wife keeps a fast today the whole day, till moonrise, then this would help in increasing the longevity of the husband’s life. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see a lot of husbands fasting too, along with their wives.
Essentially a custom that is popular in Northern India, Karvachauth is now popular and common across the other regions of India too. One of the major reasons for its popularity is of course the extremely popular Bollywood Hindi movies, which have showcased this custom in a very romanticized way. Hence now, many women willingly do the Karvachauth fast across the country.
Karvachauth is now not just about praying for the husband’s long life, but it is also a great chance for women to play dress up (almost like new brides, in shades of red; the auspicious color of Hindu marriages) and connect with friends over sessions of henna and shared laughter.
I am told the custom of Karvachauth began as an occasion for women in the community to get to know each other and bond together. It was gradually over the years the custom’s significance was laid more on the longevity of the husband’s life. We are then back to where the custom began, since nowadays the observance of the Karvachauth fast means a lot of bonhomie and spending the day together with other girlfriends.
Unlike other prayer rituals (eg.Durga Puja, Ganesha Puja etc) which are followed in India, Karvachauth is the one which entails most strong reactions! Feminists and modernists (or rather women who would like to appear modern), simple HATE this custom. Just take a peek at twitter, KarvaChauth is trending today! You need to read some of the twitter messages to see the venom that is being spewed.
I wonder, why can’t we just live and let live? Why is it so important to make another person agree to our school of thought? After all, if we really believe in the concept of universal sisterhood, why can’t we be happy or at least not interfere with the choices which some of our ilk make?
Observing the Karvachauth fast is my personal choice, which I like to indulge on my own volition. I love the festivities, the sense of belonging, the bonding it brings with my partner and the sense of discipline, which I need to use in order to stay committed to my fast. I would say the fasting helps me to train my mind; there is a lightness of being, when food becomes a secondary need at least for a day!
Another beautiful aspect of Karvachauth is the warm good wishes for shared happiness and joy with the spouse one receives from people around. It almost feels like a wedding anniversary day! (When one is wished years of happy togetherness!)
As I end today’s Karvachauth day of fasting, laughing, giggling, praying and eating, I look forward to the many more such Karvachauths in the coming years. Amen. To the naysayers and potshot takers I would say..Hey! loosen up! Pause, stop awhile, and you will surely see the beauty within the custom. Can’t see it? Great. Just Ignore. What is the point in raving and ranting about it? Let adult individuals make their own choices in life.
In sync with Harvey Fierstein (American actor and playwright) words…
I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.