For Madhulika Ra Chauhan Karwa Chauth Stands For The Beauty of Wishing
It’s that time of the year again when the air goes nippy and the feminist raise their fiery batons and charge their angst against ‘the fast’. The fast which in recent times has become the symbol of male chauvinism and patriarchy at best and a newly led phenomenon of ‘couple-fasting’.
As if we needed more things to divide the world (we already have religion, caste and creed and not to forget moolah) we now have the – fasters and the fast-mockers added to the long list of divisions which exist.
Before I lay bare my stand on ‘the fast’ let me set the record straight on the odds of my marriage. It’s a marriage between a self-proclaimed atheist and a believer, a hardcore non-vegetarian and a hard-core vegetarian (me being the vegetarian and a believer). I fast while he mocks my persistence to stay hungry year after year, despite being innocuously lured by him by a steaming hot plate of masala Maggi or other such delights and a temptation that he would not tell anyone if I decided to cheat – I stand by the fast.
Over a period of the decade, which I have fasted, he now knows that I would keep it and now he just rolls his eyes and says “Oh, it’s that day again is it?” and I simply smile nodding my head.
Looking back on the ‘why’ of the fast – personally, for me, it was as simple as the fact that I wanted to do it – it felt nice. There was no said decree or coercion or patriarchy which made me do it other than the fact it was pleasant for me to be wishing for the person I love just like I love to fast for Krishna on Janmashtami.
The associated festivities add to the fervour of the day. As a young kid, I have memories of my mother dressed in her fineries. She narrated the story in the evening and I and my sibling making innumerable rounds to ensure we catch the glimpse of the reclusive moon and breaking the news of its arrival to my mother. I still remember my seventy-four-year-old grandmother who could no longer fast owing to her age, but would still await the day making sure she wore her choicest silks and paint her nails red. The sparkle in her eyes befitting a teenager when the mehndi-wali would draw elaborate designs on her palms was a delight all by itself.
It is the innocent beauty of that sparkle which has kept me rooted to the fast, the general feeling of happiness which exists and like all other things I feel it is a personal choice and does not stand as a ‘proof’ or symbol of love or longevity.
One could still wish for the spouse and love him/her without fasting too. At the end of the day, if you decide to wish for someone you love by fasting or any other way, it should be a decision of your making. However, I feel an argument either pro or against just dilutes the beauty of wishing which the festival stands for.
So, happy Karwa-Chauth to those who fast and to those who don’t!
Madhulika Ra Chauhan, is an Indian author, whose debut short-story collection “The One Night Affair and Other Stories” has been well received. She has contributed stories to various anthologies. She writes regular articles for the e-zine. When not busy working for the corporate, she spends time reading and writing to her heart’s content. She currently lives in China with her super-curious son and super-busy husband. The views expressed are author’s own.