And I began the morning getting into an uncalled for debate on my twitter timeline about whether Karwa Chauth is backward, regressive, sexist, etc etc. I dont keep the fast. For one, I dont have the will power required. And for another, thankfully there has never been any pressure tactics applied to make me fast on this day, no thumb screws, no nailed coffin box, no elongating bench, ah, well I joke. Fact being I am the world’s worst faster, er, fastee or whatever you call it, maybe person who fasts.
I have however, applied mehndi to my hands. Something I last did when I got married. The child steered clear of me all of last evening, complaining bitterly that my hands smelt bad and he would eat his food on his own, thank you very much rather than risk having fragments of dried mehndi enter his digestive system.
The dried mehndi was scraped off last night, and I woke up this morning to hennaed hands, intricately draped in curlicules and paisleys and florals bursting from across my palms to the tips of my fingers. For today, it looks beautiful and I’m admiring it. Would I fast if I was compelled to? I dont think so. I dont think I would do anything I was compelled to with any good grace.
And I adore the ground my husband walks on. Thankfully the husband is a cool dude. He fasts for navratri, all nine days. He fasts for the entire month of shravan. I sit by the side devouring my chicken tikka biryani with no qualms. Nor does he ever indicate by word or gesture that he expects any solidarity and company for his fasting days.
Tell me again why I love him so.
Anyway, a great many friends I know are fasting today. They have grown up seeing their mothers and the women in their childhood keeping the karwa chauth fast and of course Yash Raj Films has done its fair share to glamourise the fast to a must keep occasion. At around four thirty this evening, all my friends who keep the fast will gather down in the lobby of our building where they will do the katha and pooja, I might go down to watch them, they all look so catch your breath beautiful dressed in their full bridal regalia. Some of them even have their husbands fast with them in solidarity, which of course, I feel is only fair, only the hubbies dont do the look through the chalni at the moon thingies for the wives. I think it is beautiful that these women can stay hungry for an entire day, unresentful, not dreaming of all you can eat buffets spread out in front of them, and do it for their husbands.
The way I see it, women in India historically werent empowered enough, and derived their empowerment from the various fasts they undertook for the men in their lives, husbands, brothers, sons. It made the men beholden to them in some strange way (hold the rotten tomatoes please, this is just a theory!).
Do you fast for Karwa Chauth? If yes, why do you fast? I’m genuinely curious.