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Karva Chauth: Anti-Feminism In Designer Wear

19/10/2016 11:19 AM IST | Updated 20/10/2016 11:56 AM IST
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Ajay Verma / Reuters

My newsfeed today is full of photographs and status updates about Karva Chauth (KC), that controversial festival where women fast for the longevity of their husband. There are two types of posts: photos of women pouting to perfection before and during the festivities (mehendi nights are not limited to weddings any longer, they happen before KC too now), and then there are write-ups from people who dutifully try to drive home how regressive and anti-feminist this whole shebang is...usually in vain.

It's not rocket science to figure which team I'm batting for, but then I'm told, what do I know? I'm not married, and to top that I'm Bengali. This one time I was looking for fasts Bengali women do for their husbands, I couldn't find a single one. I kid you not. There were a couple for sons and a few to nab a good husband... but once you've managed to ensnare a man, there's no way you're giving up a meal for him.

No number of gifts, mehendi shenanigans or designer outfits can change the fact that in this day and age Karva Chauth is unacceptable.

But I digress. Coming back to Karva Chauth, it is a festival that always baffles me. Because even some of the most fervent advocates of feminism seem to find a way to justify it. Some will tell you it's something they do for fun. Then there will be those who say, "Look, if it makes my mother-in-law happy, why fight it? She doesn't ask for much else." My question is, if ma-in-law asked you to stand on one leg for two hours and sing Justin Bieber songs to help her get rid of her headache would you do so? Because honestly, it's doable. Chances are you'd tell your husband his mom is nuts and refuse. But somehow the same logic doesn't apply when you are told that you not eating for an entire day and then staring at Earth's satellite are somehow going to extend your husband's lifespan! Others say this is the best time to get gifts from the husband. Come on! Just ask for something extra on your birthday, please. Surely there is no need to go on hunger strike for a gift!

Often I am told "to each her own—you may not believe in this, but we do." And to make matters worse I'm a television writer, so I carry the added burden of being part of the machinery that glorifies the tradition on TV. Well, yes, true. But as far as TV goes I also have the house help turning into a monster terrorizing households. That surely doesn't mean I expect my bai to become a beast! In most matters I do believe each person is entitled to their own belief system, but somehow this is the one thing that riles me. Karva Chauth is a chauvinistic, regressive, oppressive festival. Its very roots lie in the fact that your husband is superior to you. That he is the Pati Parmeshwar—even if PP has agreed to fast along with you. What troubles me particularly about this festival is how it has managed to brainwash some of the sanest minds I know.

No number of gifts, mehendi shenanigans or designer outfits can change the fact that in this day and age Karva Chauth is unacceptable.

[I]f you believe your daughter is as good as your son—then you can't take a day off from your beliefs and celebrate Karva Chauth.

And so, let me break this down for you. Let me call it like it is. If you believe rape is wrong, if you believe all women should be educated, if you believe men and women are equal, if you believe household chores should be shared by husband and wife, if you believe girls should have the right to choose what they wear, if you believe women should have equal pay, if you believe marital rape should be a punishable offence, if you believe domestic violence is reprehensible, if you believe your daughter is as good as your son—then you can't take a day off from your beliefs and celebrate Karva Chauth. Because when you do that, you are setting an example for girls around you—your sister, your daughter, your granddaughter. You are telling them, that on certain days, on certain occasions it's ok for the man to be more important than they are. And for me, that is unacceptable....

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