Just Because I Don't Oppose Karva-Chauth, Doesn't Mean I Think It's Fair

Ekta Shah Ekta Shah in Culture Shock on 21 October, 2017

I know the title itself is sufficient to raise many eyebrows around. Especially, when karwa chauth is coming around and someone is talking about “Why I am not a karwa-chauth fan”. But I think sometimes it’s good to read the other part of the story too.

I still remember those days at school when my friends used to discuss marriage. I was a little offended at the time by their arguments because of the norms that society has made especially for women. I was never against the concept of marriage, whether love or arranged but was not convinced with those ceremonies or rituals which have been prevailing for years without any logic.

For instance, I was never enamoured by the culture of finding a perfect match by burdening the girl’s family with the obligations of hospitality. What a proud moment it is for the prospective groom’s family who ventures out for the perfect daughter-in-law in different locations, and just burdens many prospective brides and their families!

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All is well planned. How a girl is supposed to bring tea and snacks for all the members with her eyes down and mouth zipped. Even though I am a seventies child, I never gave my consent to such weird rituals of showcasing a girl to another family at the so-called ‘ladki dikhao' ritual where she would be judged by her culinary skills, figure, complexion, birth defects (if any), birthmarks and lastly education (which was the least important factor).

How stupid it is that some unknown people would take command over you, to judge you and not only one time but frequently, till the time you get the perfect match. I thank God that I have always followed my heart and never fell into this category of free entertainment.

I am not an atheist. I do love Indian rituals, ceremonies, traditions. In fact, I desperately wait every time to celebrate festivals with complete enthusiasm. And I know many of our traditions hold some great facts and history behind them and it’s not just about blindly following it. India is known for its culture, traditions, and values which are still ingrained in most of us and which connects all of us as a family and a society.

Being a typical North Indian living in Bengaluru, I have a lot of South Indian friends whom I love. We keep sharing our traditions and cultural differences. Last year one of my friends asked me, “What is ‘karwa-chauth’? Do you keep a fast on that day?”
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Straight away I said, “NO! I don’t follow it!” She didn’t know that on this particular day a wife prays for her husband’s long life and well being. Traditionally, the wife fasts for a day without a drop of water from sunrise to moonrise and can eat only when she sees the moon and her husband.

I have seen my mother who used to keep this fast but I had never offended her by stating any opposition. After all, it was her choice to follow it. But I don’t follow this! I know the fact that even if I don’t keep a fast for my husband, I will still pray for his well being, for my children and for myself too. I am sure that it doesn’t make a difference to my prayers if they are offered on an empty stomach or a full one. I know his life is important in the same manner as mine, the life of my children and that of other family members too.

I don’t want to make it a day’s affair to show my respect and love. He is not my ‘Pati Parmeshwar’ but my better half, my partner-in-crime and a best friend too.

My point here is not about asking for equality, that I will do it only when men start fasting and praying for their wives. I am not against those who are following it and I don’t want to hurt their emotions since many are attached to this ritual. Also, for many, this festival is too romantic to celebrate. I don’t want to feed the feminist vs karwa chauth argument where I am sure it has nothing to do with it. It's all about the personal choice which you make for yourself. Like, even a saree -clad, uneducated and karwa-chauth lover woman can be feminist and vice versa.

My only concern is, why have all these rituals been enforced only on women? Does it mean a wife’s life is not valued enough? God forbid, if something happens to the wife, a man happily marries again; then why can’t a woman?

Why are the prayers of well-being only for the husband and not for the wife who holds the whole society together? I know it’s an individual’s choice and here is mine, asking only for fairness.

Editor's Note:

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