Karva Chauth is a day of fasting observed by married women for the health and longevity for their husbands. It is a tradition followed by women from the northern part of India.
As a child growing up in Mumbai, I watched my mother keep this fast every year for my father. The year she started to study again, my father requested her to consume fruits and water so that was the end of stringent fasts. What never changed was the ritual of breaking the fast. My mother would make ‘pukka khana’ and puas. ( traditional formal north indian food with a deep fried sweet treat made with whole wheat four). She would arrange a prayer plate. Seven different ingredients, rice, sugar, almonds, cashews, raisons, puas and some money, plus water for the moon. We, my family of four would await the moon. Once sighted, my mother would pour water in the direction of the moon, say a little prayer, we would all join in. Every year she would attempt to touch my father’s feet, which is a sign of respect to our elderly. My father would always hold her halfway and hold her in a huge warm embrace. Then he would feed her first morsel and my brother and I would grab the puas. Our favorite part of the day.
I have never forgotten those warm long embraces my parents shared. For me it was always an acknowledgement of their love of each other. That day stood for the promises they made to each other. The commitment they had towards their marriage vows. The acceptance of life with it’s good and bad, but always together. The moment my father would hold my mother, reminded me that everything was okay in our world. Actually scratch that. It was perfect in our world.
So naturally when I got married it would be a day I would share with my husband. I follow pretty much the same ritual. My husband won’t even let me bend to touch his feet. We always hug, he always feeds me my first morsel and I always cook his favorite food. The year I lost my father, I begged him to let me touch his feet. My husband had become the anchor I thought I had lost. That year, he became the son my mother never had, the support my brother thought had lost for ever and so much more. While he understood what it meant to me, he didn’t let me, but he held me tight until I stopped crying. I am not sure if he held me because it was cold or he just knew that I would need that hug to last a little longer.
4 years since then I have never missed Karva Chauth. It is the day I say thanks to my husband for being him, my anchor, my voice of reason, my strength, my friend, my confidant, and hopefully one day the father of my children, while being completely fussed about.
Over the past few years I have noticed that the newer generation of Indian women don’t share the sentiments that I do. They probably don’t care about traditions or consider this a feminist cause to fight. Whatever their motivation, I can respect the choices they make. And just like that I would like for my choices to be respected. Not necessarily accepted but respected.