Daily Archives: November 2, 2007

Karva Chauth, The Great Indian Starvation Ritual

I wanted to write this last week but I’ve been running late on a lot of things and just haven’t had the time. Nnnneeeaaarrrrrggghhh.

Now usually I like to be this one foot here/the other there sort of person who expounds on the scientific reason behind certain superstitions, the validity of ‘old wives’ tales’ etc. But Karva chauth has me stumped. I mean…???? We’ve done away with Sati (at least by law). Now what the hell is starving the woman for the man all about?

Note the following:

The ritual signifies extreme love and devotion to the husband, as evidenced by the wife’s willingness to suffer for his well being.

Are we in India of 2007, honey? I have absolute respect for all religions and I think anything that makes life worth living to you, is well, worth it. But religion is craftily intertwined with some social rituals as well. A few have been weeded out, thank heavens. But some others like Karva chauth remain.

I wanted to puke when I saw a TV show last year with some of television’s stars going all coy over their ‘love for their husband’ and how it was possible to get through the day because of this devotion. Zoom in on beaming husband. Huh.

I remember as a kid, meeting one of dad’s business acquaintances with his family in some fancy restaurant. He was accompanied by wife, two daughters and one niece. Daughter no.2 was sulking because she wasn’t being allowed to eat. Why? Oh, nothing major, just the routine, ‘so that she gets a good husband’ fast.

I have zero use for this ritual and honestly don’t even want to try to understand anyone who encourages its existence – men or women. I’m not particularly a foodie but starving oneself for some hoped future result just does not make sense to me. A fast once a week or longer is considered a cleansing experience for the body. Ah well, not in this day and age of junk food, unhealthy dining, sedentary worklife and zero exercise.

I’m asked why I should care and that other people can do what they like while I’m free to eat. Sure, lurve. Except I’m still appalled by the idea that a 10-year-old girl is forced to starve for a day to ensure a good husband. I’m aghast that my generally delicate friend lives on polluted air, even if only for a day while her khaate-peete ghar ka husband lives through another gastronomic delight. And what ‘even if only a day’. I’d like to see a man do that for his wife for a day.

Oh yes, there are those couples where the man fasts as well. And what, pray is the use of that? Why not both eat like everyday and be happy? There are enough of people going hungry because they don’t have a choice. It seems criminal to practice starvation as an affectation. I’m not asking for Sata-Savitras either.

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