'Karva Chauth' is an essential part of this beautiful warm up to the festive season in a large part of the Hindi speaking world. Having spent half of my adulthood in Delhi, this festival is one that I have seen being celebrated with great commitment and reverence in the Northern part of the country. While I always did notice the festive air about the market place near my home in NCR through the corner of my eye, this is the first time I have reason to truly internalise it and read up about it and I was happy to learn some interesting dimensions to it.
Most of you know it is for the well being of your beloved, to pray for his good health and long life. But I was also happy to discover that another origin to this occasion is to celebrate 'god sisters' or 'kangan-sahelis'. In ancient times when the girl got married and left for her husband's village she was far away from her family and home with few to call her own in the new locality. With no relatives to talk to or to meet regularly, she would befriend another woman in the same village who would be like her 'god-friend or god-sister' and this friendship would be sanctified and blessed by the bride's in-laws. 'Karva Chauth', according to some, is also a celebration of this bond of friendship...
I also loved reading about other folklore and legends about this festival, the stories that trace back to the age of the Mahabharata, where Draupadi too observed this fast, as did Queen Veeravati and Savitri.
I loved chatting with my mother-in-law the past few days and understanding from her how to go about the fast. I do believe in all things traditional, and I enjoyed making notes of the 'dos-and-donts' for the day. I must also share with you that she made the special effort of lovingly sending me my 'sargi' (a ton of goodies that are sent from the mother-in-law to her daughter-in-law) all the way to Korea...a bag full of beautiful things...the 'mehendi', the 'mewa', the 'anjeer ki mithai' , the multi-coloured 'choodis'...so Mom if you're reading this, love you ! :-)
Many have contradictory views on the subject, and debate whether this custom or practice should be allowed, terming it as 'outrageous' and 'blasphemous', describing how it has a negative impact on the health of the woman observing the fast, staying hungry and thirsty from sunrise to moonrise, while some argue that this is submissively putting the man on a pedestal. Everyone is justified to their opinion, and am sure they have their reasons to form them. I just feel observing the fast makes neither of the two 'less equal', to me it is just another way of expressing your affection for your beloved and making him feel special, from the time the sky is still star spangled in the wee hours of the morning,till it is punctuated again by the sliver of the moon. And what can be more wonderful if the love and commitment (and the fasting) is reciprocated by the other in the equation, as a symbol of mutual respect and devotion :-)
So all you ladies out there who are observing this ritual, enjoy it, dress up and look even more gorgeous today than you always do. Enjoy the 'mehendi', matching the bangles and the 'bindis', the bright colours of your silk sarees and bejewelling yourself. Festivals call for it ! I know am looking forward to my day ahead, to putting my feet up, to getting spoilt and relaxing through the next eight hours or so and to the 'katha-and-kahani' and the 'badaam-ki-puja' with the other ladies in our part of the world later this evening. See you on the other side...have a beautiful day ! :-)