In a few days from now one of the most celebrated festivals of husband-wife relationship, ‘Karwa Chauth’ will be observed. On this day the married women especially from North India keep no food, no water fast and pray for the long lives of their husbands. Over the years, the influence of Bollywood movies and numerous brand advertisement campaigns made around this festival have further popularized the concept of keeping this fast.
So much so that most Indian newly wed, love-stricken girls look forward to keeping this fast for their dear husbands. At the same time, debates related to this ritual between the so called feminist & anti-feminist groups are also trending. Being married myself I felt the urge to get close and personal with this topic someday.
I went ahead to question few ladies who had started to keep Karwa Chauth fast on their own wish in the early years of marriage but eventually stopped to observe this tradition. The reason was something nobody wanted to talk about or had lame excuses to say. Even for these modern women, talking about this or their marriage with anybody meant spilling the beans of husband-wife behind the door matters. So they simply chose to decide against keeping the fast rather than speaking up!
After little persistence what they spoke is a surprising revelation about the dynamics in modern Indian husband & wife relationships!
She is young, attractive and works for an MNC in Delhi NCR. Surbhi (name changed) coming from a Punjabi background where Karva Chauth is celebrated with all pomp and show married an equally talented boy from Bangalore. Theirs was a love marriage and everything was hunky dory initially. Karwa Chauth is a tradition that Surbhi had seen her mother and other aunts of her family and neighborhood observe and celebrate with great fervor. Surely this had to be a part of her married life too.
On this note she started to keep the fast, for a year or two her husband Dinesh felt little out of place yet romantic about this ‘fast’ concept. However, later on Surbhi started to feel that this day or her abstinence didn’t really bother him much. After much pondering she also understood that it was not just this that Dinesh had not been caring about. But he had got much more involved in his own space and off-course social media. She tried to gain back his attention on her but it failed to an annoying extent. So much so that she stopped keeping this fast.
The initial years for Neha too were pretty much the same like Surbhi. She and Akash are both software engineers with two different IT MNCs. Both earn almost equivalent salaries and in a year’s time or two they are supposed to get promoted both in their professional lives and personal lives (have a baby). For a year or two, the fast was a mushy romantic ritual with Akash. But slowly he started to get irritated and tagged it as a ‘Superstition’. Last year, when Neha mentioned about the fast coming, this irritation became evident to her. The way Akash spoke was disrespectful. Neha first thought it to be a bad day at work or something but later she realized there was something more than just this tradition which was troubling Akash. She named Akash’s annoyance as his male ego and not being able to cope with the equality in varied facets of their relationship. ‘Superstition’ was just the word to show her inferior. This left this independent working women so much disillusioned that she stopped keeping this fast.
Aarti, a girl from Kanpur had an arranged marriage with Vikas who worked in Delhi. She like any other girl had dreams of a wholesome married life with lots of mushy romance in it. Hardly a month or so after her marriage, Karwa Chauth day arrived and she fasted for the long, prosperous life of Vikas. But this very day opened her eyes to the rude fact about her new life. She discovered, Vikas, whom she had thought to be the man of her dreams wasn’t romantic enough about this ritual or anything in general. On the contrary, Aarti had dreams of celebrating this day in a very romantic way. Post the first Karwa Chauth fast, she chose not to observe it and burden down herself from inside with unfulfilling expectations. The void created in the heart due to the absence of romance still remains unaddressed, though. Even today she continues to live with a man whose wavelength doesn’t seem to match with hers.
“You want a gift babe, then tell me I will give you like that only don’t keep this stupid fast.”
These sentences were exasperating for Rhea. Each year before Karwa Chauth day arrived she had to hear all or some of these seemingly humorous statements said by her husband. She really wanted to follow this tradition and make Mihir, her husband, feel special. But every time, Mihir would make her feel small by saying these words. ‘Extortion’ word being the most demeaning one which let Rhea to discontinue observing Karwa Chauth.
The above revelations shook me from within and forced me to introspect my marital bond. Surely the relationships have become far more complex and dynamic with the changing times. I guess women don’t need their husbands to be out and out metro-sexual; they simply want their husbands to be more involved mentally & emotionally. Time for both men & women to balance this out, isn’t it?