Does Karwa Chauth Fasting Matter In This Day And Age? 8 Husbands Tell Us

men speak up on Karwa Chauth husbands

Over the years, as feminist discourse has progressed in India, the tradition of Karwa Chauth has continued to come under the radar. The general consensus among those who oppose the festival is that the idea of a woman fasting without food or water for a full day for the long life of her husband is deeply patriarchal. But in recent times, there has been a turnaround, wherein women observing the fast have reclaimed the festival as part of their rights to choice-making. While it has still not been completely assimilated into feminism, given its gender imbalanced roots, Karwa Chauth exists in tandem with the fight for equality today.

In part, this is courtesy of the variations that married couples have introduced to the festival. For instance, several wives go through the day on water if not food, some husbands observe a fast with their partners, husbands take an off from work to care for their wives, some women only fast for some hours for the sake of tradition – and so on. In 2020, there are a lot of factors in the mix pertaining to the way Karwa Chauth rituals are seen in India.

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We rounded up responses from ten husbands on their perception and outlook towards Karwa Chauth. Here’s what they had to say:

(Names of respondents have been written in initials to retain their privacy)

1. “It is once every year that we husband’s feel on the top of the world, important, wanted, so much so that our better half’s do not even drink water for a complete day, and that too only for the well being of their loved one. Religious practices and logic do not always go hand in hand, but there is always a purpose to all religious beliefs. Yes, it’s the feeling of love & sacrifice which gets rejuvenated once again which was fading away with the element of time. It just says one thing that stands above all else, ‘darling I care’ which is the only thing that keeps us ticking. Putting it another way it is the ultimate way of saying that an infinite bond exists between us and there is nothing more important than the relationship we share… pure eternal love.”

RG, 51

2. “Interesting concept…one should observe only if health permits and gives you a happiness..but truly speaking no male (yes, not the man) is worth staying hungry for. No man worth his manliness should want his wife to stay hungry and thirsty the whole day.”

-GC, 50

3. “Although I can’t argue against the rituals that have been followed for generations, I do feel that she is torturing herself by not drinking or eating the entire day. The only thing I can do is help share her work, and keep the fast with her as well so that it becomes sort of a shared experience.”

-AN, 49

4. “I am not the kind of a person who feels disheartened when my wife doesn’t keep a fast neither do I believe that it is a way of proving your love. She keeps a fast because she feels happy doing that, and I take care of her throughout the day helping her with other things so that she can rest.”

RS, 49

5. “I always question what the need is for my wife to cause herself discomfort by fasting the whole day. Why does she have to do that? In my view, no fast is needed. I’m happy with her just continuing to love me and feed me, as she already does.”

-AS, 48

6. “Karwa Chauth is like renewing our marriage vows every year. It is a celebration of values on which Hindu marriages are based. Pure love, sacrifice, and utmost commitment. Values that are not only important for children’s growth but also very important for society’s stability. While I may not know about the history of how Karwa Chauth started but for sure this celebration has stood the test of time. To have somebody do fasting for the whole day for the wellbeing of her husband definitely is one such celebration which was at risk of vanishing in this fast-moving world. Instead of vanishing, the tradition has grown stronger with each generation and now it is celebrated like any other big Indian festival. I as the husband of a lovely woman, who has brought so my stability and love in my life, can only say that I bow before my wife for going through this ritual. On this day, I again promise to myself that for the whole year, I will value the commitment my wife has shown on this beautiful celebration of Karwa Chauth.”

ARV, 52

7. “I think it’s fine if she wants to keep an old tradition alive because it has been handed down to her over generations by other women in her family. Even in my family, my mother, grandmother, everyone observed Karwa Chauth religiously. In those days, the norms were much stricter, in fact. We always saw the elder women around us not eating even one morsel till it was time to break the fast. Today at least women have the choice to decide how much or in what way they want to fast. So we should all be thankful for that and respect it.”

-TC, 46 

8. “My wife’s family isn’t Punjabi while mine is. So on her side, there has never been a ritual or compulsion to follow Karwa Chauth. But after our marriage, she decided to take up this tradition from our side, without any pressure from me or my family members. It was completely her choice. If she wants to fast for the sake of her own satisfaction, then what can I say? My family is happy she is following our traditions, but we also understand that she is free to do it in the way she wants. If she doesn’t want to fast the entire day, it’s fine by us. And even if next year she doesn’t want to do it, I will respect her decision.”

-VJ, 34

Views expressed are the author’s own.