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By Fasting On Karvachauth, Do Women Give In To Patriarchy Or Find A Sisterhood?

It's no great secret that we are all divided on our belief of karvachauth. However, what if women gain a sisterhood though it?

It’s no great secret that we are all divided in our belief of karvachauth. However, what if women gain a sisterhood though it?

Celebrated in November 2020, yet again, karvachauth stirred the forever favourite debate – ‘Why do women give in to patriarchy?’

There were numerous posts on Facebook that caused virtual discussions and arguments about this. I am sure women everywhere may have had a similar feeling as Twinkle Khanna but probably weren’t as bold as her to make it sound like a primitive practice. Post her famous/infamous tweet, the process of fasting on karvachauth is looked down upon.

‘Patriarchy’ is the go-to word that looms large under the garb of karvachauth fasting. According to some people, fasting for the well-being of the husband is akin to completely giving in to patriarchy. It is regressive, and fans the already Himalayan egos of men; not something that modern and educated women partake in.

For a while now, the narrative has been that anything unscientific, unproven and done in blind faith must not be followed by the educated and well-travelled women of today. Well, there is no doubt that today, women are at par with men. Neither of them is paramount.

Is there only one way to follow a certain faith?

But what do such ‘social analysts’ have to say about the couples where both the husband and wife fast for karvachauth? What do they have to say about the well-read and educated couples who break the social order and ‘wish’ for each others’ well-being? About husbands and wives who believe it takes two to tango? What about such men? Does anyone hear what they want to say?

On the one hand, you may be thinking of the darkness and patriarchy of the belief that your fasting is ‘responsible’ for your husband’s long life. However, on the other, by dissuading women from fasting, you might just be telling them that, ‘Girl, this is not how faith works. Follow my way. That is the one that works.’

There is no time-tested proof that fasting on karvachauth will result in the long life of a husband. Similarly, there is no way, I can judge whether a marriage will work or not. It is a certain belief, trust and many moments of emotions and feelings that infuse this confidence. Can we be insensitive and ask people to stop having their own beliefs or faith? Who am I to judge or comment on anyone’s system of conviction?

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Does fasting by choice make them regressive?

This narrative has been so strong that certain women acknowledge their fasting with a constrained ‘yes.’ They fear they would be lectured about the regressive nature of the practice. Often, they might even change their faith and belief system completely.

If they don’t fast, they are modern but if they fast on their own will, does that make them un-progressive? As a society, we propagate the freedom of choice for women. So, shouldn’t we let them choose whether or not they want to fast?

What about men or the heads of the families fasting on Shivratri? Or the men fasting on the last day of the funeral rituals of a deceased family member?

Excessive social media blizzard about the photos, glitterati, the mehendi patterns and KJo style lovey-dovey pictures may cause visual annoyance. Like all other festivals, even karvachauth has become a huge marketing and milking event for many. Often, this definitely crosses the lines.

Do we really get to dampen their faith?

While browsing through several posts on a similar topic, I came across an interesting perspective. A survey was conducted where 39 percent respondents said they wouldn’t want their wives to fast on karva chauth. Meanwhile, 61 percent men said they would keep a fast with their wives (if the wives chose to do so).

Don’t we already have enough of ‘my faith is stronger’ kind of stuff going around everywhere? Who are we to dampen the strong faith or someone’s belief system?

From my top floor apartment, when I look down at the women dressed in their fineries, sitting in a circle, I am reminded of the radiant sun. They are all bright, full of energy, the procreators of life and a store-house of positivity. How ethereal it looks when all these women cocooned in their safe bond, pray and wish for the long lives and well-being of their loved ones. 

A dear friend of mine doesn’t fast on karvachauth, however, it doesn’t stop her from offering the sargi to her sister-in-law who does. She may differ in her approach towards the ritual but tries and enables her sister-in-law in whatever capacity she can. I don’t think she has ever made her sister-in-law feel diminutive in any way.

Instead of giving dictums, maybe try being the enabler?

Maybe, it was just a way to seek a sisterhood

There is obviously a legend to the starting of karvachauth. But how do we not know it was accepted back then, so women had an excuse to connect with a larger sisterhood? How do we know that it was going against the routine and bonding with like-minded womenfolk? Or to simply chat and vent? We all know that long ago, women didn’t enjoy the kind of freedom of expression that we do now. So maybe this was one reason that they could all come together for.

Oh and the spiritual awakening and experiencing the power of group prayers and positive affirmations. Weren’t prayers performed for positive cosmic energy to seep into the human soul? And wasn’t chanting the same mantras and hymns believed to ward off negativity and fill the environment with good vibes?

So, my dear people, follow your inner voice and fear none. Let people have their faiths and beliefs even if they don’t necessarily align with yours.

Follow your inner voice and fear none. Let people be with their faiths and beliefs. Rattling that will bring no good.

Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham

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Avanti Sopory

Entangled in balls of yarn; origins unknown...With a blunt pencil, the quintessential machine and the cacophony; hope to knit a flying carpet and steer the magic carpet around… Yours truly, Slave Of Words read more...

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