It’s that day of the year again. The pandemic has subdued the celebration of most of the festivals, but this is not one of the days that can be overlooked, even in these situations. It’s Karva Chauth today – a day when married women, mostly across North India, observe fast, even avoiding water, from sunrise to moonrise, in order to seek blessings for the long life of their husbands.
The Society Pressure
A lot of preparations go into getting ready for the special day – shopping for clothes and jewelry, beauty treatments to look your best, selection of Mehandi designs, puja planning, arranging the food delicacies, etc. It is a general practice these days to celebrate the festival together with friends and family – where the husbands and kids are all grouped together, enjoying the food and drinks, while the ladies are all together, chatting, performing rituals, and waiting anxiously for the moon to appear in order to complete rituals and break their fast.
It has almost become synonymous that more the effort a woman puts into the rituals and festivities, the more is her love for her husband. But does a woman still have to prove her love and dedication to her husband by her fasting on this particular day? Doesn’t she already do that all through the year, every single day?
Traditions – To follow or not to
Traditions play a major part in our lives, especially in Indian society. We have grown up watching our elders follow the same rituals and these traditions are so embedded in our hearts that we almost stop using our rationale when following these customs, especially when it involves the person, we probably love the most. ‘What if I do not do this, and something bad happens’ – this is a chance that we do not want to take. But aren’t such thoughts and doubts the basis of most superstitions which we are trying to shun, like that of a cat crossing our paths?
Isn’t this patriarchy – The Doubt
At some stage, most women question if their long life is also as important as their husband’s. But of course, most of them do not voice their thoughts for the fear of being judged. Rituals that are so gender-specific create a sense of inequality and self-doubt in our hearts. Women are as important as men, but the value of her life seems lesser in the minds of society. She is the one who is expected to be responsible and sacrifice for the man. The rituals almost send out a patriarchal vibe that the man is the important person in the family, the core person who we cannot afford to lose.
Change of Heart
A sequence from the very popular Hindi movie – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – shows the hero fasting on Karva Chauth along with this beloved. The sequence floored the audiences and showed something that was literally unheard of, inspiring a few young husbands of that generation to do the same. And to think about it, though very glamorized in the movie, if and when we celebrate Karva Chauth isn’t that what it should be – a celebration of love, a prayer for having a long-life together – for each other, by each other?
So, it’s that day of the year again! We all need a little celebration to light up our lives, but this year should we celebrate it as a day where we continue to endorse the patriarchy, or is it the day where we re-evaluate our concept of marriage – a partnership of equals… in every sense.