Married Life

Why do wives have to prove their love by fasting during Karwa Chauth?

Isn't it enough that your wife shows her love for you in all that she does for you?
Lady dressed for Karvachauth

It’s mooning time again! Quite literally, when all the women will wait for the moon to come out, so that they may eat the first morsel of the day. And the moon, that clever old shape changer, is not known to be chivalrous at all. He will probably show up at least a couple of hours beyond the regular time.

But wait a minute, what exactly are we talking about when we associate the moon with eating?

sas bahu on karwa chauth
Simmi Gulhati with her mother-in-law

Following society’s prescription

Customs! Right from the time they are married, north Indian women fast for the day on Karwa Chauth, because customs prescribe it. And everyone follows, right or wrong.

It’s simple: What society does is right, and anyone who abstains from what society does is wrong.

So you wake up in the early morning and after a prayer, ingest Sargi, a pious mini meal. To my mind, this cannot really have miracle nourishment, because it’s actually just fruit and nuts (no, not the Cadbury chocolate), which will have to last you till the night.

I didn’t like it when my wife had to observe the fast. “Why do you call it fast when you actually slow down on food?” I made a PJ. Of course it wasn’t appreciated, and that one look of a hungry wife made me realise why women are called tigresses. “I like the way you are greedily munching on your Kraft cheese crackers. I’m actually keeping a fast so that you have a long life, and here you are making jokes on my self-willed deprivations.” And that was a mini enlightenment.

Look after her!

You remember the adage that the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach? Hmm, just like an architect needs a roof, and the seamstress needs clothes, guys, it’s no rocket science that a cook needs to eat! So, that beautiful woman who, amongst much else she has done for you, has lovingly served you your meals day after day, year after year, not just to attain your heart, but because she loves to care for you. That woman needs to be looked after in equal measure!

Fasting made no sense to me other than a sort of ‘sacrifice’ – I skip a meal, have some hardship and therefore, Nature will be pleased to give my husband no hardships, or a long life. Hmm. But when my wife started getting migraines, when through the red wedding dress, a sick bride struggled to complete the ‘no food gauntlet’, I sheepishly looked at the cheese crackers in my own hand and then jettisoned them on the dining table. That’s when I quit the ‘run up the stairs to see if the moon is out’ routine.

Related reading: Do Karwa Chauth expectations stress out husbands?

I put my foot solidly down, no more liquid diet! “You will not fast from now on. Please, you don’t have to do this for me. I know your love is there, always. You’re going to have some a coffee and perhaps small nibbles through the day. That you want my well being, you pray for it, is enough. You don’t have to starve yourself for my fulfilment.”

Karwa chauth pic

It’s a personal choice

Of course, it’s a very personal choice. Your mom did it, my mom did it, In fact, Mummy kept the inimically stoic version of the vrata, ‘Nirjala nirahar’ for all her life, even when she became an extreme diabetic. Our grandmoms did it, and not out of compulsion; many of them wanted to do it; and perhaps our daughters will do it too. That’s fine, but even eclectically speaking, it should be the spirit that counts.

Observing the Karwa Chauth Vrat for a day shouldn’t ever eclipse the less exhibitive, but more enduring, countless actions of tending and caring in your partner’s everyday routine.

So, check again: is your wife fit enough to keep the fast? Or would you prefer that she spends a day in which you attend on her, with her favourite beverages and snacks served with panache and tender loving care from a grateful hubby?

Published in Married Life

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