Pictures taken from Fever18.in
Last year, when I arrived at my Hindi lesson, I saw my teacher dressed to kill, with a mysterious and proud frown on her forehead. She was observing Karva Chauth!
Karva Chauth is a strange festival which would make British suffragettes choke on their ballot paper! Northern Hindu wives have to fast from sunrise to moonrise to honour their husband. They have to pray and ask for good future and long life for him. Once the women have spotted the moon at the end of the day, they can break the fast!
My Western instinct would make me utter: And men? When do they fast for their wives?
But actually, the situation is not so bad. I’m going to tell you why!
1) A few days before the fast, you go shopping! You buy makeup, clothes, jewels! You even look after your home decoration by buying little candles called Karva and all what you’ll need for the puja. Do you know a religious festival in Europe for which you have to go shopping? Ok, there is Christmas, but it’s often a real chore!
2) On Karva Chauth day , you wake up at 4 o’clock:
Children and Hubby-Ji are still asleep. It’s quiet in the house. You have a great breakfast. You eat whatever you like to prepare for the fast. Most of the time, you eat matthi and dry fruit. Can you hear the silence while you’re drinking your chai on the mellow cushions of the deserted living-room?
In other cases, Hubby-Ji prepares the breakfast for you and in ideal worlds, it is your mother-in-law!
4) On that day, you will also give up any form of housework! Goodbye dusters, diapers, frying-pans and smelly-weepy-onion-chopping!
5) For the puja, you gather with other women from the family and female friends. You give presents to each other, clothes, jewels, money and they draw on your hands with henna.
6) Finally, at night, when the moon appears in the sky, you look at it through a sieve and Hubby-Ji must give you some water and a piece of sweet food to break the fast.
7) If your husband is a nice guy, he will fast with you. It is what my Hindi teacher’s husband did. Even if he’s French, I found it was cute and it shows the evolution of this festival. The husband honors his wife too! A bit like in this extract in which Shahrukh Khan plays the perfect guy, as usual:
Now, I invite you to read what (Indian) women think about Karva Chauth.
I like this one by Suzanna Wickes. She is scottish and her love story with India is moving.