Karva Chauth is just around the corner and naturally, brands are trying to cash on it, just like any other festival of the season. But fashion label Satya Paul has however announced that the festival is the “true essence of womanhood.” For someone who is a blot on the fasting community in India, and who develops low blood sugar by the mention of even intermittent fasting, I am deeply perturbed by this realisation that my womanhood lacks “essence.” In their zeal to encash on the festive sentiments, do brands not realise that they are enforcing out-dated stereotypes on women? Is there nothing more to our womanhood than the ability to endure a day-long fast from dawn to moonrise? Is Satya Paul trying to tell women that they are incomplete unless they embrace traditions, no matter if they don’t identify with them?
- Many brands try to exploit the traditional sentiments that run high during the festive season.
- Fashion label Satya Paul has called the festival of Karva Chauth as “true essence of womanhood.”
- Is Satya Paul trying to tell women that they are incomplete unless they embrace traditions, no matter if they don’t identify with them?
- Is there nothing more to womanhood than the tolerance level to fast from dawn till the moonrise?
Is there nothing more to our womanhood than the ability to endure a day-long fast from dawn to moonrise? Is Satya Paul trying to tell women that they are incomplete unless they embrace traditions, no matter if they don’t identify with them?
If you look at it from the gaze of a woman who holds traditional beliefs, then Karva Chauth is a beautiful tradition. A perfect occasion to not just express your dedication and devotion to your husband, but to also gather to celebrate love and traditions as a community. Dress up in your fineries, get your hands painted with mehendi, and be pampered by your loved ones. These days a lot of men also keep the Karva Chauth fast for their wife’s long life, or just as a sign of love. It is romantic and fun. If you believe in it. However, it comes across as a regressive tradition if you don’t believe in it.
For those who do not believe in this tradition, Karwa Chauth is yet another way patriarchy tells women, that they are not relevant without their husbands. A married woman holds a much higher social and familial status than an unmarried or a widowed one. These traditions were established in times when it was a norm for women to marry early and settle into domestic life. Women weren’t encouraged to pursue higher education or get a job. As a result of which their household used to be their universe, which was centred around their husbands. It was the husband who would bring money, status and comfort to them. Losing him meant losing your life’s anchor, a scary prospect. Thus, the prayer to the almighty to bless him with a long life.
When will the society stop shaming women in one way or the other for shunning the choices it has hand-picked for them without their consent?
But times have changed. More and more women are opting to be financially independent, choosing a stable career, an individual identity over dependent domestic lives. Some choose to stay single. Others marry for love, and not because there is no other option. Matrimony is no longer a natural course for women’s life and they get to have a say in when and why they get married and to whom. Who is to say that womanhood of such women has any less “essence” than that of those who still choose to follow traditions?
Glamourising customs and traditions is a way for brands to sell us their merchandise. While we are all for traditional wear and customs that don’t force gendered norms on us, brands need to understand that it is insensitive of them to take away women’s agency by making stereotypical statements such as this. To fast on Karva Chauth or not fast is a personal choice. As for our womanhood, the essence of it lies in our individuality, so it is much more complex and extensive than keeping a kadak upwas.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.
Image credit: Yahoo