“Karwa Chauth” – now, who hasn’t heard of it in India, more so, in the Hindi speaking lot! Right since my childhood, I have been watching the neighbouring aunties get dressed up and carry out many rites and rituals on this day, the most obvious one being the Karva Chauth vrat (or fast). As I grew up, I saw the same thing in movies too, where all the women would fast from dawn to dusk, get ready in new clothes, makeup, jewellery – the solah singar – and finally break the fast after sighting the moon. Soon, I assumed that it’s a ritual practised only by the traditionalists. But little did I know that very soon I would find all my friends who belong to various different castes and cultures be it Gujarati, Bengali, Maharashtrian, Kacchi, or Punjabi, observing this fast along with their grannies, moms and aunts!
This observation made me wonder how a festival that was only celebrated amongst the conservative lot, has now spread its wings out and touched the rock-chic crowd out there too! The modern Indian woman too has embraced the Karva Chauth vrat with open arms and one is left to marvel at the stark difference between the various types of women who celebrate the festival with such fervor. Back in the days, some of my friends would agree with me that they don’t understand the ritual or the stories behind it. So I felt like I’m not the only one intrigued by this colourful celebration of fasting to increase the lifespan of one’s husband (I always secretly thought it’s kind of cute). But the very friends of mine who seemed too non-conformist and questioned the faith and the rituals are now married and they too observe the fast.
When I ask them how did they agree to it or accept it without any humdrum, all they say is “Look at the gifts we get this day! I’d fast the whole year if I was treated like this every day.” Jokes apart, I think for the urban Indian woman, this day may not be about the mythological stories but the glamour behind it. Our beloved Hindi film industry has glamorised the concept of Karwa Chauth with a horde of romantic flicks (iconic ones being DDLJ and K3G) showcasing it as a larger-than-life naach-gaana session, which is concluded with the husband romantically looking into the wife’s eyes and giving her her first sip of water and morsel of food for the day. This is probably the reason why the new-age rock-chic bahu doesn’t mind celebrating this festival along with her saasuma.
Anyway, whatever may be the reason behind the fresher lot happily and willingly accepting the rituals, the one thing that we learn from this is that our women are definitely all-rounders. From high-heeled stilettos to khadi-cotton saris, they can carry it all with élan. Be it fine-dining at a 5-star hotel or cooking up a meal for her family (on an empty stomach), Indian women are nothing short of superheroes. Here’s to the new age savitris minus the sati (funeral pyre)!