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Celebrating Love On A Moonlit Night -- My Own Way

30/10/2015 8:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NOIDA, INDIA - OCTOBER 11: Hindu married women perform rituals during the Karva Chauth festival at Sai temple, on October 11, 2014 in Noida, India. Married women observe Karva Chauth by fasting and offering prayers seeking welfare, prosperity, and longevity of their husbands. On Karva Chauth Hindu women observe fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Every year around this day, there are hoards of posts on the Internet discussing the insanity of the rituals related to Karva Chauth. A woman fasting for her man, praying for the longevity of his life, waiting to see the moon before eating the first morsel of food and even the first drop of water and the man doing practically nothing in return. It may sound bizarre to many. Only very few men take it upon themselves to practice what the spouse does.

So those opinions are right in many ways, there is no argument there. What I personally do not appreciate about many of Karva Chauth's critics is how they look down upon those women who actually believe in and follow the ritual. In most instances, it is women coming out in their feminist armour and attacking other women. Rituals are a matter of choice just as religion is. We often tend to forget that.

I understand many women follow rituals due to family and societal pressure. But many do it of their own choice and do it their own way. I would rather not judge anyone.

"For me, this is a festival to celebrate love and companionship. So I do it my own way. How can there be a set norm to celebrate love?"

I am someone who observes Karva Chauth out of choice. No, my mother-in-law did not ask to follow the tradition. I don't do it for the longevity of my husband's life either. I have always prayed that may neither of us outlive the other, though I know it is inevitable. It will happen someday. I instead pray for the longevity of the beautiful life that we have created together. Our companionship, our unsaid understanding of each other, our struggles, our shortcomings, our triumphs and our unconditional love for our children and everything else we have built together, all on our own.

I do not follow all the rituals. I will be honest I do not know them either. I grew up in a family where this festival was not observed. Yes, unlike what Bollywood shows, not all married women in India follow this custom.

I have never put henna on my hands nor have I dressed up like a bride on the day of the fast. I have never received gifts or hampers. I have never prayed with a group of women. I prefer to pray for the sanctity of my love in privacy. I do not see the man through the sieve when the moon comes up. Looking him in the eye under a moonlit night is far more romantic.

I do not rush to see the moon as soon as it comes out. I am shy, I like it to be private. I step out when everyone has finished sighting the moon, when it is no longer playing hide-and-seek in the clouds. It is usually shining bright above us by the time we have step out to see it. A moonlit night and the man next to me, I pray silently for it to be that way for many more years to come. I know he says a little prayer too. I have never asked him. I assume he prays for something similar. At least I hope so.

There are years he has driven me around to find the moon, when we have sneaked out of a dinner with friends to see the moon together and years when my daughter has gone moon hunting (as she calls it) for me. There are years I have stayed without a drop of water until moonrise, and there have been years of nursing and pregnancy that I have skipped the fasting altogether. Last year I ran a 5k on the same day for a cause close to my heart, so it was important to keep myself hydrated. But every year, I wait for the moon this one night of the year.

"For those of you who observe this day, fast or not, dress like a bride or not, but do celebrate love. Heck, do nothing but pop a bottle of champagne that night under a moonlit sky..."

I will do it this year too.

Adherence to a ritual makes sense only if you understand it and believe in it. There isn't a diktat written somewhere. I have not seen one. There are no set rules. They are more like man-made societal norms. So instead of following them blindly, do what your heart says and believes in.

For me, this is a festival to celebrate love and companionship. So I do it my own way. How can there be a set norm to celebrate love? For those of you who observe this day, fast or not, dress like a bride or not, but do celebrate love. Heck, do nothing but pop a bottle of champagne that night under a moonlit sky and share a moment of love. For those that don't observe the day, you can pop a bottle too. There is no harm. But I make an earnest request to be respectful to women who believe in the ritual. Be respectful of others' faith and rituals.

As for feminism and gender equality, I believe in all of that. But seriously, let's not drag it into everything. There are far more important things to be discussed and tackled than fasting on Karva Chauth.

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