Karwa Chauth now can also be observed by unmarried girls. This is a good move of inclusion and creating popularity for an archaic culture that is slowly losing ground. Now majority of girls are opting to not get married as they are progressing financially and are determined to pursue their careers wholeheartedly instead of an eligible man to marry.
To not let this custom die, the inclusion of unmarried girls has been made less strict, unlike how it is for married women. Unmarried girls can break fast with the appearance of the stars in heaven. They are allowed fruits and water to drink, as they pray for the long life of their fiancée or boyfriend. As of now, many young girls are no longer willing to settle with the first man they meet.
According to a government survey, the proportion of unmarried persons within the age bracket of 15 to 29 years has increased to 23 % in 2019 from 17.2 % in 2011. As per the National Youth Policy 2014, those aged 15 to 29 years are classified as youth.
Questioning Traditional Roles In Matrimony
Many youth today are questioning the traditional roles in matrimony. The big fat marriage market will get a hit if this happens too soon and too quickly. Karwa Chauth clearly is a festival for married women, who are supposed to fast.
They break their fast only after the moon comes up. It is celebrated with folk songs and prayers of a longer life, for their husbands, which in itself, is a good thought. But to remain thirsty and hungry to pray for men who are not going to war, on horseback to win countries, seems ridiculous to me in 2023. One hopes that women are able to understand that adding the mehendi, the clothing and the bangles, for the ritual is a gaslight for women to make it look like a girl gang getting together. Wish this could be done with eating and making merry. The underlying agenda we all understand, is patriarchy. Where the man is supposed to be at the altar of worship. This must be reversed.
One would hope that in 2023, men too would fast along with their fasting wives for their long life. By dressing up in traditional clothes, not eating and drinking and waiting for the godforsaken clouds to move for the moon to appear in its splendour. After all the moon is considered as a feminine energy. This may be the perfect way ahead. Some do, some don't. It's, of course, a matter of choice but shouldn't the ritual be mutual too?
I recently spoke to Shalini Sharma, an entrepreneur based out of Gurgaon, and she said “I still recall a lady in my neighbourhood in New Delhi, where on this day, the woman who was fasting all day, had managed to annoy the husband for some reason. The man beat her so hard, that the cries still reverberate in my ears to date. Violence doesn’t go unabated on this day too."
Karwa Chauth, maybe, must evolve as life does. Many single women may do this, by compromising on their food, sometimes owing to an illness just to do what is done, without questioning the relevance. Sadly, sometimes they soon find themselves in the wrong relationships with men who, after all, aren't the ones with whom they desire a happily ever after.
Hinduism is the only major religion that has always worshipped God, in the female form and continues to do so today. Many Hindus revere God's energy, or Shakti, through its personification in a Goddess. Festivals such as Vasant Panchami, Navarātri, and Dussherā are dedicated to the Goddess's energy.
So, Karwa Chauth too could become about women celebrating the resplendent moon and less about men, unless they too are fasting for the longevity of their wives.
Mohua Chinappa is an author, and podcaster and runs a digital marketing space called Asmee which brings stories of women across platforms.
Views expressed by the author are their own.
Suggested reading: How The Significance Of Karwa Chauth Is Changing For Women