Friday, November 02, 2007

Karwa Chauth

So I kept the Karwa Chauth- my first ever, obviously.
And it led to this host of questions arising in my mind, and questions about why the questions came (sounds convoluted- believe me, it was even more confused in my mind).

Firstly, I wanted the questions not to come. I wanted to accept totally and with complete faith the institution of the Vrat, and the idea behind it. I wanted to be any one of those millions of Indian women who take it as their unquestioned duty (and privilege- after all, what higher privilege than being married and showing it) to do the Vrat. I wanted that mindlessness, that total faith, that complete acceptance.

In parts of North India (especially the Punjabi belt), the Karwa Chauth is no longer just about the vrat itself. It has been totally commercialized- look at the millions of advertisements in the national print media. It has become the occasion to flaunt your saree, wealth, status- or who got the bigger, better gift from their husbands (Dah-ling, a can wear it the next time I take you out in the car I got...)

But then- I think Punjabis have a penchant for turning every occasion into a reason to flaunt themselves (considering that I am one, I know ;)

I kept asking myself, why the vrat? Does giving up food and water for one day really make your husband live longer, make him richer and happier (In my case- he would probably be happy if I gave up food forever- considering my weight ;)

Or as the feminist junta is quick to point out- you don't see men doing the same for women (apart from, of course, the two most important men in my life- Shahrukh Khan and my husband (in that order). My better half offered to do the vrat with me- for my longevity and happiness, since he is as much of a feminist as I am. Maybe more- I just sit and crib about the state of Indian women, he says we should do something about it.

However, the presumption here is that most Indian men don't care about their wives living longer, or being happier. I am sure that they do-only they are not expected to keep a strict fast to prove the same.

And yet... I did it. Did I do it because I am Indian? Because I have internalized certain norms of behavior, which I will feel guilty about not following?

Maybe my reasons are the same as everybody else's. I do want to die a suhagan, but mostly because I know, living without him is a pain I cannot bear. Because I would willingly give up the last drop of water if it makes him live longer.

Because it makes me a part of this larger community of Indian women who kept the Karwa Chauth. I was imagining a globe, with Indians in scattered parts- from Kenya to Canada- women all over who did the vrat. Wherever an Indian woman is, the Karwa Chauth is an essential part of her being married. So I kept imagining random dots in sarees waiting for the moon rise. And I was one of those sprinkled dots.

And lastly- because of Kajol and Shahrukh Khan.
Because, to this day, this moment, I can never hear the following lines and not cry. Itne saalon se, isko sun ke aajtak aankhon me paani aata hai

"Tere haath se pee kar paani,
Daasi se ban jaaun Raani"

I just believe in this. Totally. Unquestioned. Completely. Kajol believes in it because she loves him- totally.

It is only love that matters.

"Har shaadi ki buniyaad sirf beinteha mohabbat honi chahiye"

(again, SRK in KANK)

Then, the Karwa Chauth becomes a true prayer. Not because you have to do it, but because you want to. Because its not a tradition, it is a choice.


Prashant Das said...

Loved going through this post.
Poignant; but you have made some points.
True, media has badly glamorized the concept of this fest. Lots of women do it, perhaps, merely out of fad.
But, whatever, this keeps you closer to the core culture. In an age of developing exaggeratedly disparate inclination towards 'friendship band' than, say 'raksha bandhan'; there is a clear indication that alien concepts are gearing up at the cost of our originality. So, I dont find this glamorization so despicable.

... Well, I didnt know you were such an avid blogger. WIll keep visiting now onwards.
Nice writing!

Anonymous said...

Every Vrat in our Hindu culture is associated with doing Upvas. Upvas once in a while defintely helps to be helathy ....

your blog ephasizes that how much our culture is now interwined with movies and glamourised. I am glad that people still do karwachaut because of SK and Kajol.

nice analysis anyway

Richa said...

Nice. May be the actual reason behind the whole vrat isn't the longevity of your husband but to celebrate the love. And as women are naturally more advanced in expressing themselves they are the ones doing this vrat. Expressing their devotion using a totally unique way.

sahil said...


nice to read this thought..
i can only say that it is day when husband and wife need to express and pledge their dedication and love towards each other....

i have always tried to keep vrat with my wife ...(not always though coz of job)..simply if she can do it for me ..why shudnt i do it for her as well..

ne ways i think u need to read the 'katha' which talks about the exact origin of this tradition and i think every lady needs to know tht..

the point abt flauting punjabis ... you cant help it ...they have money and need reason to blow it up...

SRK and karwa chauth ....hmm full marks for the song ...but this being the reason ..hmm ..i think sum thing is a miss....

nice blog ...i think i will visit again ...first timer

SpaceMonkey said...

"Har shaadi ki buniyaad sirf beinteha mohabbat honi chahiye"

Hai, marr jaavan.

BTW, blog header par ye 'chaak-lay-tee' dish kaunsi hai? Looks yum.

Rachna said...

@sahil- thanks a lot! Its wonderful that you keep the fast with your wife :)

@spacemonkey- pata nahi kya hai- chocolatey template dikhi to maine kahin se le li :)