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Sabitri Brata or Vat Savitri, I Don’t Fast for My Husband. Period.

Posted: June 25, 2021

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For a man, it’s always a choice, NOT a compulsion. Have we heard of any ritual or custom asking only a man to fast for his wife or family?

Today, I am going to tread into an ‘unpopular opinion’ territory. So, read with caution and without any judgement please.

Recently, we just celebrated a festival, exclusively for married women – called Sabitri Brata in my home state and Vat Savitri at my in-laws. The essence is the same for both – it is based on the popular folklore of Savitri and Satyavan. Basically, the wife keeps a fast for the husband’s longer life on this day.

Why I find this concept of ‘fasting for husband’ regressive

Even though I have always loved reading about cultural folklores, I have found this particular concept quite regressive.

  • Firstly, how would a wife’s starvation add years to the husband’s life? I would rather get him a vaccine to be more ‘warrior-ready’ to fight the pandemic and consequently, get a longer life maybe. Makes sense?
  • Secondly, why would the onus of caring for a healthier and longer life of the spouse, just be on the wife? Isn’t marriage the only relationship where the partnership is mutual and equal?

I know I am going to be swarmed with examples of doting husbands fasting with their wives on Karwa Chauths, Savitri Pujas and what not. I don’t question their love either. But, please understand. They fast, mostly to give company to their wives.

For a man, it’s always a choice, NOT a compulsion. Have we heard of any ritual or custom asking only a man to fast for his wife or family? I haven’t heard of any, so far. And if such customs exist, that is regressive too.

A personal point from my marriage

In the first year of marriage, when we were suddenly introduced into this world of patriarchal rituals and customs, my husband had once said – “Never do anything out of obligation. Be responsible. Eat well. Stay healthy. I would never give up on you. But, try to make my job easy during the later stage of our life, by not self-destroying your body. I promise you the same too. Respect that body, and it will give you back that respect too.”

It’s been more than 5 years to this. His words still keep ringing in my head, as if it was yesterday. The day I heard him say this, I was reassured that I had married the right man.

Be it a Vat-Savitri or a Karwa Chauth, any day ‘dedicated’ to him traditionally, would just be a day of love for me anyway. So, I would be a little extra happy that day, in general. That’s about it. Nothing more.

Let’s put it this way. My ideologies are not in sync with this whole concept of fasting for longer lives and putting one partner a notch higher than the other in a subtle way. For me, a relationship should always be balanced. That’s the only way I look at relationships, especially the ones revolving around marriage. And sadly, these kind of customs shift that fulcrum in a marriage and put the spotlight on a single partner (exclusively based on gender).

Does that build a healthy relationship? I am not too sure.

Do I believe in such skewed relationships? Definitely, NO.

How I celebrated Vat Savitri this year

Yes, I did celebrate the day this year, in my way. After all, who would mind wearing new clothes, getting dressed up a bit and clicking vibrant pictures, especially when we’re locked down in our homes for months at a stretch? A refreshing change, in the unpleasant times, isn’t it? And yes, I wore a bangle too (which I normally don’t prefer), because they just felt pretty.

I didn’t fast. I never do. I just fail to comprehend this whole idea of fasting without water, or by consuming fruits, or food without salt, and then popping in an antacid by the night to deal with the acid reflux in the body. I mean, even that has become a farcical ritual these days.

And please do not even get started on the ‘detox’ aspect of it. I have heard many justifications from this angle. I will choose to detox my body, as and when I want to. I do not need to be dictated on which specific day I should detox (read : fast), as a mandate.

On a lighter note, isn’t it rather amusing that our focus is more on fasting to get desired results, instead of actually taking some real effort on the relationship itself?

Don’t judge me just because my ideologies are different from yours

Someone had once told me – “It is all about your feelings.” Now, what is ironical and wrong about this statement is – the onus of expressing (or rather proving) one’s feelings is almost always on the woman.

Don’t get me wrong. Let the woman express her feelings in her own way. Let her fast if she wants to. Let her have her favorite parathas if she wants to. Don’t shove your ideologies on her, by typecasting them as ‘her feelings’.

Maybe, I wouldn’t even take an effort to dress up, if I don’t have the time or I am traveling, or in the middle of an important project delivery at work, on this day next year.

Both my mom and mom-in-law follow the tradition strictly and I am sure many other women do too. I respect their beliefs. If their faith keeps them going, so be it. Each to their own. Mind you, I will never be the one giggling at or taunting someone’s beliefs.

Similarly, my school of thought focuses more on companionship and good karma. Respect my thought process too, just the way I respect yours.

Don’t crib about your life and bitch about your husbands with your girl gang, while observing a fast for his long life. Stop faking fancy love on social media posts, while going to sleep with your backs turned against each other at night. Rather, work on ironing out the differences and build a stronger relationship. Be real. Be happy.

First published here.

Image source: shutterstock

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