Every year around this day, there are hoards of posts on the Internet discussing the insanity of the rituals related to Karva chauth. For the uninitiated, the wiki link may be helpful. A woman fasting for her man, praying for the longevity of his life, waiting to see the moon before eating the first morsel of food, even the first drop of water and the man doing practically nothing in return. It may sound bizarre to many. Only very few men take it upon themselves to practice what the spouse does.
Those opinions are right in many ways, there is no argument there. What I personally do not appreciate about many of those discussions and conversations is how they look down upon women who actually believe in and follow the ritual. Most of the times, it is women coming out with their feminist armor and criticizing another woman. Rituals are a matter of choice just as religion and faith is. We often tend to forget that.
I understand many women follow rituals due to family and societal pressure. But many do it of their own choice and do it their own way. I would rather not judge any one.
I am one of those who does it out of choice. No one was asked me to follow the norm. I don’t do it for the longevity of my husband’s life either. I have always prayed that may none of us outlive the other, though I know it is inevitable. It will happen someday. I instead pray for the longevity of the beautiful life that we have created together. Our companionship, our unsaid understanding of each other, our struggles, our shortcomings, our triumphs and our unconditional love for our children and everything else we have built together, all on our own.
I do not follow all the rituals. I will be honest I do not know them either. I grew up in a family where this ritual was not observed. Yes, unlike what Bollywood shows, this is a ritual followed by only some married women of Indian origin.
I have never put henna on my hands nor have I dressed up like a bride on the day of the fast. I have never got gifts or hampers. I have never prayed with a group of women together. I prefer to pray for the sanctity of my love in privacy. I do not see the man through the sieve when the moon comes up. Seeing him in the eye under a moonlit night is more romantic instead.
I do not rush to see the moon as soon as it comes out. I am shy, I like it to be private. I step out when everyone has finished sighting the moon, when the moon is no longer playing hide and seek in the clouds. It is usually shining bright under us by the time we have stepped out to see it. A moonlit night and the man next to me, I pray silently for it to be that way for many more years to come. I know he makes a similar wish too.
There are years he has driven me around to find the moon, when we have sneaked out of a dinner with friends to see the moon together and years when my daughter has gone moon hunting (as she calls it) for me. There are years I have fasted without a drop of water till the moonrise and there have been years of nursing and pregnancy that I have skipped the fasting altogether. Last year I ran a 5k on the same day, for a cause close to my heart, so it was important to keep myself hydrated. But every year,nevertheless, I wait for the moon this one night of the year.
I will do it this year too.
Adherence to a ritual and its sheer existence has always evolved with time. There isn’t a diktat written somewhere. I have not seen one. There are no set rules. They are more like man made societal norms. So instead of following them blindly, do what your heart says and believes in.
For me, this is a time to celebrate love and companionship, albeit a little traditionally. So I do it my own way. How can there be a set norm of celebrating love? For those of you who observe this day, you may fast or not, you may dress like a bride or not, but do celebrate love. Heck, do nothing but pop a bottle of champagne that night under a moonlit sky and share a moment of love.
For those that don’t observe the day, you can pop a bottle too. There is no harm. But I make an earnest request to be respectful to women who believe in the ritual. Be respectful of other’s faith and rituals and choices. As for feminism and gender equality, I believe in all of that. But seriously, lets not drag that into every thing. There are far more important things to be discussed and tackled than fasting on Karva chauth.