So this is the time of the year when women across India, especially north India gear up for the most awaited and coveted festival Karva Chauth. It is one such festival which all the married Hindu women(believers) look forward to. On this day married women observe fast from sunrise to sunset for safety , longevity and prosperity of their husbands. Seen as the celebration of institution called marriage this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by married women specially newlyweds. Unmarried girls also fast on this day for the hope of husband of their choice. Thanks to bollywood for glorifying it.
Preparation , prayers and rituals –Karva Chauth falls during the Krishna Paksha Chaturthi in the month of Kartik as per the Hindu calendar, well I don’t understand that , what I understand is it falls 11 days before Diwali. The festival is celebrated with great fervour especially in north India, where women start preparing for the festival well in advance. This festival gives opportunity to women to adorn themselves with traditional attire and jewellery (solah sringar or 16 ornamentals as mentioned in the shashras). Prayers and storytelling are integral part of the festival where women read the story of Karva Chouth to each other. The day long fast is broken in the evening with moonrise. When women see the moon through sieve and offer prayers to him, then they see their husband through the same sieve and take sip of water from his hand to break the fast.
Criticism – Karva chauth is the most important yet most controversial festival of Hindus (women). The festival has been criticized for being regressive , sexiest and gender biased. Critics have their share of logic and arguments for the fast and rituals , which are rational beyond doubts after all isn’t wife’s life and well being equally important? And how on earth torturing yourself with a fast going to ensure longevity of your husband! And what about those data on life expectancy which states that India ranks way behind in life expectancy of male as compared to other countries on the list.
My take on Karva Chauth– I have been preparing for this day from some time . Attire selected, palour visit done, jewellery checked. So today is the day when I will adorn myself in a traditional way, all my hidden jewellery will come out and I will wear all of them with utmost pride without cribbing about it. Even the toe rings, anklets, bindi, manglasutra, bangles which otherwise the ultramodern women in me had hated for the sake of logics. And yes the most criticized fast, I am going to fast today, not for diet, not for body cleansing, I am going to fast for the safety and the longevity of the man in my life. I will fast not because my mother –in-law or elders in my family want me to do so or because I have seen my mother doing the same since childhood, in fact Karva Chouth has never been a tradition in my family, yet I chose to fast and celebrate this day because it gives me the joy of celebrating my marriage, the joy of dressing up in this way at least once in a year. Damn all logics , this is the day of celebration and I have chosen to celebrate this day the way it is , just like we celebrate other days the way they are.