My first brush with Karwa Chauth was though my mother. I remember her dressing in gorgeous sarees, some from her wedding trousseau wearing lovely jewellery and keeping the fast with cheer and peace. She woke up early morning before dawn and ate whatever she had to eat. Since I never woke up that early, I had no idea how she did that part. 🙂 There was a complete absence of any gifts of the material kind. Dad did not give her any; she never cribbed about not getting any. Perhaps because festivals were not this commercial and there were no hyper sales back then to put pressure. Her fast was observed without any protests. She kept it without water or nirjala till her health declined and she stopped it. I can’t forget the goodies she made for all of us including malpuas, puri, sabzi etc. and there was a ritual she followed when she made us all sit and listen to her recite the story of Karwa Chauth in the evening. We kids had the responsibility to spot the moon and report to her. She then broke her fast after doing her pooja watching the moon through the sieve. It was a beautiful, ethereal day filled with happiness. No tussles in her heart or mind about why she should be fasting for her husband or putting him on a pedestal. No hysteria or shenanigans from my father who did what he was told to in a matter-of-fact manner. He, of course, stopped her from fasting when her health got worse and she complied. As simple as that.

karwa chauth

Me all decked up!

So, when I got married, I was excited to do the fast for my husband. You know the rush of love you feel when you are newly married. How you want to be a part of this elite gang of married women. I was married into a family where there was no tradition of this fast except for a sister-in-law who kept it at her own volition. So, I was pretty much free to do what I wanted, keep it in whatever fashion I deemed fit. I loved dressing up in my wedding ghagra choli which still fits me and wear heavy jewellery. I loved applying mehndi and wearing colourful bangles. I did the fast diligently though I was scared to God how someone like me would fast as I had never fasted before. I did not cruise through them over the years. No tales of superhuman strength there. I actually struggled because I felt faint, had a bad headache and felt very thirsty by the evening. In the meanwhile, I also was exposed to a lot of chatter on social media about how regressive the festival was. How could independent women do something like this? And the jokes, damn the jokes! They hurt.

Why was someone else having an issue with what I did inside my house out of my free well? I felt a bond with my husband, a day to celebrate our wonderful relationship and love, and also a day to test my self-control. He asked me every time to stop keeping it as I felt a massive headache and nausea by the evening. I finally did 2 years back. I did feel a little sad about letting go of a ritual that I had done diligently for years. Hey, but what is stopping me from celebrating the festival without the fast? Nothing! So now, I just dress up, enjoy the day and cook some goodies sans the fast.

Many of us living in big, urban cities are doing the fast happily and customizing it to suit ourselves. Some avoid food but take juices and other liquids, some take milk and fruits, yet others don’t have food but water. Some who never kept it also keep it due to the widespread reach of Bollywood and romance around the ritual. As long as it is done through one’s own choice, it is perfectly fine with me. The husbands are also confused as to how to keep up with their wives and get rid of the forced guilt on them. Some of them fast with their wives, others give them gifts, spend the day with them, cook with them or take the family out for dinner. Mostly, harmless! Definitely a day of celebrating love between married partners! Regressive? You decide.

While it is important for every society to constantly review its rituals, behavior and culture, it is equally important to do so with empathy and objectivity. Just because something does not sit right with your thinking, it does not necessitate lampooning and hurting others.  Calling another names may make you feel superior for a bit but definitely makes you a lesser person. Try to understand how our festivals and rituals have evolved instead of painting them all with the same brush of being patriarchal and regressive — the favorite punching bags on social media. Keeping or not keeping a fast does not make you liberal, your ability to look beyond the noise does!

Comments

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76 Thoughts on “Karwa Chauth is here

  1. Review rituals with objectivity. Very well said Rachna. It does not make us liberal to condemn rituals like karvachouth or raksha bandhan rather being objective and giving each person a freedom of choice does ! A very happy festive season to you !

  2. It’s much like everything else, isn’t it? If you believe in it and your health permits it – do it. If not, then rethink. Just because I don’t personally agree with it, doesn’t give me the right to belittle others who do.
    Sid recently posted…Of hair and toddlersMy Profile

  3. Amazing how we were thinking similar thoughts around the same time. Totally with you on this.
    Love your sari, unusual colour combo.

  4. I have only one issue with karwachauth – the katha says that this lady broke the fast and her husband died!! Anything that makes me do something at gunpoint is not fair. And unfortunately for some of us, the family truly believes in the story. It makes me hate our traditions.
    Nisha recently posted…McCain and The New BrideMy Profile

    • Frankly Nisha, I don’t believe the premise that a fast can increase your husband’s life or that not keeping it will reduce it. That is why i say that the festival has evolved. Yes, anything done at gunpoint or forcibly is not enjoyable. It actually is pretty painful. I think more than the tradition it is people with closed mindsets who force their views are more hateworthy. If not Karwa Chauth, they will find other ways to control you.
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

  5. You and Alka wrote very similar posts 🙂 Well, my comment will have to be similar then! Hmmm….should I just copy-paste from what I said there?
    Before I forget, let me say you look stunning in that picture, all decked up and all. Beautiful combination of colours 🙂
    And yes, I enjoyed reading your well-balanced post on this much misunderstood, much maligned festival. The way I see it, Karvachauth like almost all Indian festivals that celebrate relationships, is such a unique outgrowth of a unique Indian mindset that focuses on the spirit of things, not merely an outward ritual or custom, which will continue to change anyway.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Musings on Peace, Harmony and the Art of SpacesMy Profile

    • Yeah, quite uncanny that Alka and I shared similar views on a similar subject. Thanks for the compliment. And what you shared about festivals is so true. Beyond outward ritual it focuses on the spirit of things. Thanks for reading, Beloo and for your wise words.
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

  6. Beautifully put Rachna…All comes down to ones free will, if someone is doing it out of choice and not coerced into it then why would a third person have a problem…?
    I cannot stay without food, fasting is or was completely alien to me…I started keeping it after marrying S to respect his side of traditions but I also customized it my way because I really don’t believe in fasting and especially when someone tells me that I absolutely have to do it…That’s when my antennas go all wild..

    I look at this festival as a way to celebrate the bond between a husband and a wife and it can be done in any number of ways, like you said with or without fasting… While we can question why such rituals were made only for women to carry out, it is wrong to judge those who celebrate it..
    Nabanita recently posted…Do We Change With Time?My Profile

    • I can understand, Naba. If it does not work out, it is best not to do it. The ideal thing would be to do something if we like doing it. When someone forces us, it makes us angry and defeats the purpose as well. Yes, it is a good day to celebrate love between husband and wife.
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

    • I can understand, Naba. If it does not work out, it is best not to do it. The ideal thing would be to do something if we like doing it. When someone forces us, it makes us angry and defeats the purpose as well. Yes, it is a good day to celebrate love between husband and wife.
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

  7. Totally agree with every word. I hate the jokes, the so called objectivity and the commercialisation of the festival. I keep it simple, just like my mum did. I keep the fast diligently without food or water, or belittling others who don’t, AND without making a noise about it on social media 🙂
    Ghata Singhal recently posted…Bachpan ki Memories, Now and Then!My Profile

  8. Interesting thoughts. Down south our acquaintance to this festival was from Bollywood and later Ekta Kapoor. I guess over time traditions lose their religious significance and become just an occasion for revelry. We have so many of those in Europe.
    Carthick TF recently posted…On a Temple RunMy Profile

    • Bollywood and TV folks are nuts. They are the culprits in commercializing every festival and also enforcing the view of regression. I actually never considered did a religious festival. Revelry with a reason is good.
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

  9. Lata Sunil on October 28, 2015 at 1:47 pm said:

    My sister does the Karwa chauth fast every year, though I have never done any kind of fasts. She insists that I do it. But, I cant do something I dont believe in. She is happy with her beliefs, me with mine. 🙂

  10. I have never heard of this before but find the idea of it very beautiful! Also the picture of you is very beautiful!!:)
    I think people should be able to celebrate as they please without it being criticized by others. The curse of social media, everyone has an opinion about everything and can air it to wide audiences??:) Myself included.;)
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  11. What jokes? Just read Sakshi’s post about it too. I haven’t come across any of those jokes.
    That apart, I do think the ritual is patriarchal and regressive.
    Kaddu recently posted…Foto Friday: Happy Navratra!My Profile

    • Wait for a day for them to surface on twitter and FB. Well, you are entitled to your views as long as you don’t offend those who celebrate. I am not making a case for KC or any other festival. Basically asking people to treat each other with respect and tolerance. After all, their life their choice. Thanks for reading, Kaddu.
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

  12. True Rachna…doing anything out of your own free will gives more pleasure than making one do things forcefully. I don’t fast, I am too hyperacidic… but I love to observe rituals associated with our festivals…I enjoy the festivities sans the fasting part!
    The Little Princess recently posted…Un-Bliss…My Profile

  13. Very true, Rachna! It is all a matter of choices. What I don’t get is how some people feel it is okay to make fun of something they clearly do not understand or believe in. While social media has its advantages it also tries to dictate opinions.
    Thiruvathira is the equivalent of Karwa Chauth in Kerala, where women abstain from rice based foods. My mother took it when she remembered it. 😀
    By the way, you look fab! Is this an old pic or a recent one? Because you look like one of those people who never age. Nice sari 🙂
    Destiny’s child recently posted…Of a childhood memory and vegetable loveMy Profile

    • Yes, that is the point. I am not even talking about virtues of KC or any other festival. There are so many festivals that I don’t celebrate or don’t agree with either. But, what is my right to point fingers at others who do it with happiness? Aren’t we getting very intolerant? Thanks for the compliment. This picture is 5 years old. 😀
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

  14. Nicely written, as usual Rachna. It’s the thought that matters and the heart that counts.
    Kamini Lakhani recently posted…5 Ways to Stop Imprisoning Individuals on the Autism SpectrumMy Profile

  15. You almost described the scene at my house and my mom and dad. I liked that there was no confusion. Unfortunately we are the generation that is ushering in change and hence are bound to be a little mixed up and confused. However, one of the best things I like about Hinduism is that it allows one to change and evolve and adapt just as has Karwa Chauth. You have a happy day.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…Rendezvous with ObelixMy Profile

  16. I call Karwa Chauth – Elusive moon day , with my duty on rooftop to look out of the moon.

    KC is different for each women for some it is a statement for some it is tradition and for some not keeping it is a statement.. As long as they are happy.

    I go to roof top and click some moon pictures… 🙂
    Prasad Np recently posted…You Are The Power Of We- Join Hands To Save Our TigersMy Profile

  17. OMG! The photo!

    Didn’t even read the post 😛

  18. I came to know about this ritual through Hindi serials first and later I was friendly with a Marathi family who was following this ritual. Staying whole day without even taking water seems to be difficult for me. We too follow rituals here, in Tamilnadu…but fasting has diluted a lot. Most of them have saltless chapathis with sugar or honey. Some people have moong dhal kheer with jaggery. No salt in any way. It is long time since I stopped following them. I have chapathis with some curry, yes, with salt. Can’t starve…can’t skip food at all. This is just very personal. Commenting about the rituals is not decent. All rituals change/dilute through the years. Whoever is able to follow can follow. All festivals is done for our families’ happiness and goodness. No need to criticize, I feel.

    Happy Karva chauth!! We will see them in all the serials anyway! I watch only one serial, Balika Vadhu and they cover this festival every year!
    Sandhya Kumar recently posted…Our Hindu Rituals! Should We Change Some Now?My Profile

  19. Happy Karva Chauth… eats lots and have fun. 🙂 I have few friends who do it just because they want to. There’s nothing wrong about it. But some are forced to and that doesn’t make sense to me. What’s the purpose of keeping a fast when one doesn’t even want to? Social Media is cruel, no doubt. Off late, my reading list consists of just bloggers. I have stopped reading things are have lot of negativity.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…Got That MoveMy Profile

    • Thanks, Raji. 🙂 Yeah, the forced part is quite bad. It makes no sense to me either. Imagine fasting for your husband with anger and resentment. I have unfollowed a bunch of people and to tell you the truth, my mood is so much better these days. If I feel down, I see your lovely Yoga pics. 🙂
      Rachna recently posted…Karwa Chauth is hereMy Profile

  20. It’s all about making fun of people these days, Rachna. That’s what social media has come to. The live and let live policy has long been swept under the carpet because everyone is an authority on everyone else’s lives these days. I used to very consciously hide my religious/ spiritual beliefs on FB for fear of being ridiculed and then I realised, hey, these are my beliefs and I don’t need to justify them to anyone. People who know me well will love and respect me for everything that I do and not change based on what Gods I worship or what rituals I follow.

    As for you, I love the way you’ve broken it down here- the fast, the reasons , the practicality of stopping it and your husband’s love- what else do we need? You are a vision in that saree. Seriously! 🙂
    Shailaja recently posted…Seduction #Microfiction #GargleblasterMy Profile

    • Thanks, Shy. It feels that way to me too. It is quite suffocating that every tiny action is labelled, everything under a scanner and everyone feels it is their right to push their opinion down someone else’s throat. Wasn’t feminism about giving a woman choice to do what she wants? Sadly some women deny other women exactly this in the name of feminism.

  21. So my Mum never or did anything for that matter for KC. My Papa asked her to not do during the first year of their marriage. He believed that it was not something that he can do so he wouldn’t want his wife to attempt.

    Not knowing anything about KC, I married VT who comes from Haryana where KC is Diwali or even bigger. My MIL was kind enough to say – do what you wish and out of excitement my score is 3 done /4 years. One I missed cos I wasn’t well and this year’s I will miss cos I am not in India, the pooja, clothes and stuff. I like that women are choosing if they want to fast or not. What’s not fair is imposing on them. VT has not fasted with me or gifted me stuff so it’s not about those little things. I about a choice. I could relate to your post. 🙂
    Parul recently posted…Hong Kong – A day in Lantau IslandMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Parul. Why only KC anything forced down your throat is terrible? It is the restriction of choice which must be opposed not the rituals per se.

  22. ahmm ahmm ahmmm Looking super doooper 🙂 balle balle for sure

    The pity in our society is that we dont want to evolve and those who do we try to bring them down.. the rituals and all were kept in those times depending on the situation of those times .. WE are happy to evolve where it SUITS us but not otherwise anyway .. forget about all that

    ahmm ahmmm you look super doooooooooperrrrrrr 🙂 balle balle AGAIN for sure 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
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  23. To each for oneself. We have just become too intolerant in social media, because it gives a license to spew venom without any repercussions. Everybody has some opinion and feels entitled to flaunt it, and also belittling others in the process.Scorn and sarcasm can never convince others, even if one is right.
    Asha recently posted…Sunset at 60 ?My Profile

    • Yes, you make perfect sense, Asha. True if you have a viewpoint, share it. But derision and name calling does not bring about any change. Thanks for reading.

  24. Nice post Rachna
    Completely agree with your views, I keep this fast without water, but do take some dry fruit in between as empty stomach makes me giddy. I enjoy this fast and keep it on my own will.
    Happy Karwa Chauth to you 🙂
    swatibassi recently posted…To be healthyMy Profile

  25. I know you well enough to say I know how you think about these festivals and rituals 🙂 Enjoyed reading the post. I never saw my mom do fasting in her entire life except skip eat rice on Mondays. Same goes with me. Like Karva Chauth, we have this Vara Lakshmi Pooja. Ladies do it with full gusto, but somehow I am not into it. I do Ganesh Chaturthi well though…it’s all the habit of the home you grew up in. You look pretty in the pic 🙂 Happy Festive season to you and the family, Rachna

    • Yes, you know me too well. 🙂 No one can make me do something by force. My mum used to do a bunch of fasts. My sister and I didn’t do any. They do Vara Lakshmi Vrat in Bangalore too. It is fun to see and not do. 😉 Some women in the North do Teej fast too. Happy festive season to you too.

  26. If someone has a problem with something let them not do it, rather than asking others not to follow the tradition. If one wants to do it let them, if not let them not.
    Ashwini CN recently posted…What makes you happy?My Profile

  27. Agree with you, Rachna. It’s all about he choice. I haven’t done Karvachauth because we don’t do it in Kerala. But I have done fasting before marriage. And that was completely because I wanted to do it. In Kerala married women fast every Monday for the longevity of husband and unmarried girls keep fasting for getting a good husband. After marriage I never had the stamina to go a whole day without food and water. Anyways, as you pointed out it is my choice and being judgemental for keeping the fast or not is just not the right thing. Great post, Rachna. 🙂
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  28. Very well written, Rachna.

    This is something that has been on mind of late. I used to consider myself as a feminist. But these days there are so many posts on my FB feed by these rabid feminists, opposing anything and everything male, that I have begun to question the direction that feminism is taking.

    Some of these posts are plain ridiculous, I tell you. I recollect one post which was Anti-RakshaBandhan. Of all things in the world, they found the necessity to spend their energy cribbing about how girls do not need protection from guys, and how this is all just a grand scheme to put down women and lower their self esteem. So you can only imagine what my feed looks like on the occasion of Karvachauth (I have un-followed at-least 7 such accounts today).

    I understand why some people might have an objection to women being forced to follow these rituals. I have a problem with that too. But there are lots of women who do it out of their own free will, and I feel that is totally fine. It is their choice. If these people can’t respect the choices a woman makes, what kind of feminism are they preaching?
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    • You know just like you, I actually question what direction feminism is taking. Like Suresh said, feminism is about the right for a woman to choose not to get badgered about my other women to fall in sync with their thinking. I actually equate it to intolerance to not be able to make peace with something that may not sit right with you.
      Rachna recently posted…Gift your loved ones happiness this DiwaliMy Profile

  29. So true Rachna… As long as it’s not forced..its our own wish and freedom to choose what rituals to follow and what to celebrate. There are so called modernists spreading their protests over so many rituals over social media. Being modern is not about forgetting our past or culture. It should be about using our wisdom and respecting traditions and understanding how these have evolved.

    There are some rituals which may be forced or harm women which we may have to protest. But we shouldn’t ridicule the rituals of any culture..

    Your words are totally true. Well said. These occasions are ones personal affair that they enjoy celebrating together and no social media has the right to poke their nose in ..
    Bilna recently posted…“Diseased duo” | Dealing with the Unexpected Illness in KidsMy Profile

  30. Any behavior that restricts free choice, when the choice is neither immoral nor illegal, or makes fun of the choices others make is regressive. The idea, I thought, was to ensure that women CHOOSE their lifestyle and not have it enforced on them – and how does that gel with enforcing a lifestyle merely because what is now being enforced is the opposite of what was earlier being enforced?
    C. Suresh recently posted…FantasyMy Profile

  31. I am one of those who have customized it. I can’t live without food and water. Also, I am one of those who don’t care what other’s say. To each his own. I love festivals and I celebrate it the way I want.

    Btw, jealous of you, your wedding dress stills fits. 🙂

  32. Atta Girl! You already know what and how I feel about following rituals and fasting of course 🙂 It has now become a fashion to bash anything Indian as Dagny has pointed out. The Varalakshmi puja Latha has mentioned is also a Tamil vrat. I do it, but when I pray, it is for the welfare of everyone. Why term it as being regressive, when all it does is as you point out, to test your will and affirm your love for your husband. How you do it, also depends upon you. And I know scores of women who do it their way and are not ‘forced’ to do anything by their families. Now off to read Alka 🙂

    • Thanks, Zephyr. Every time you put your gentle stamp of approval, I feel confident and reassured. Yes, why look at everything from a myopic prism of black and white? I don’t know why or how but everyone has fallen into the habit of ridiculing the other and sometimes for things that do not concern them at all.
      Rachna recently posted…Gift your loved ones happiness this DiwaliMy Profile

  33. While I haven’t come across any jokes around this, I will admit that I think Karva Chauth and a lot of other religious rituals are rooted in patriarchy and misogyny. There was a ritual my mum followed {as south Indians} where the women would wake up early, pray and wear a yellow thread on their neck for the wellbeing of their husbands/future husbands. I remember even as a teen, questioning the logic behind it but also why there weren’t similar things that men did for women. I think Karva Chauth raises a similar question for me. It’s a way to control women by quoting scriptures. Some women may think they are doing it at their own free will but when you are embedded in a culture rife with misogyny and patriarchy, you can’t see past it to truly assert your own free will. It’s akin to the burkha or hijab where some women say they choose to do it.

    I’m not a fan of any religion because of how they all treat women. Maybe that’s why I view all rituals with scepticism too.
    Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life recently posted…Signing up for my first #NaNoWriMoMy Profile

    • They may be rooted in patriarchy or may have started out as something different but they have taken on very different dimensions over the years. I am not talking about whether this or another ritual is good or bad. I am merely saying that we must exercise caution before ridiculing someone else. Also, I don’t look at everything from a black or white viewpoint.

  34. Over the years, The Husband and I have customized all our festivals according to convenience. For example, we can only do pujas in the weekend, so no observing ‘auspicious’ times, because it doesn’t work for us! The same with this festival too! To each his own!
    Happy Karwa Chauth to you and your family!!
    Roshni recently posted…What kind of monster are you?!My Profile

    • True, Rosh. I hardly celebrate any festivals. I think Holi and Diwali are two when I go all out and do everything within my constraints. Other festivals have been customized heavily. 🙂 I think, we must just do what pleases us because inadvertently there will be something unpleasant on social media about it anyway.

  35. Ditto with my mother. She fasts every year without any jalpan. And my dad.. he makes her early morning tea before dawn and wakes her up with it.. and it’s record till date,he hasn’t skipped a single KC fast..!! and we children had the responsibility of spotting the moon and reporting about it..! it was fun indeed.

    And now, I too come in that category.. So far so good. I fast without jal or paan or any of it.. and I feel terrible by evening.. but I like doing it! And I love to dress up and do all the things that any married woman does.. I may not do 364 days, but on KarwaChauth, I simply flaunt it.. I love every bit of it.. loving the fact that I’m married and do all the holy things for my husband!
    It was indeed pleasure reading your post Rachna 🙂

    Cheers
    Geets recently posted…Reflections- October #Monday MusingsMy Profile

  36. That’s the problem with social media. Some people will have opinions for the sake of it.

    I say, keep calm and do what you want.
    Purba recently posted…Maggi WapsiMy Profile

  37. its damned if you do and damned if you don’t, these days. You already know what I feel about Feminism and Liberals. The very fact that they tell us what our beliefs and practices should be, defeats their purpose. There is no empowerment without tolerance and respect.
    Jaibala Rao recently posted…Her IdentityMy Profile

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