Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Karwa Chauth celebrations today

Today is Karwa Chauth – an auspicious occasion for married Hindu women. It is observed for ensuring wedded bliss and wishing long life for their husbands. Marriages are made in heaven. But to make it last is in our hands. So this day is spared for some special pray seeking marital bliss. Though media hype and commercialisation has helped in extending this celebration, its origin goes back to the mythological days.

Karwa Chauth involves fasting from sunrise till moonrise. This is like fasting from 4am to 8 pm. Not even water is sipped during these 16 hours or so of fasting. It is tough, fortunately it is not very hot at this time of the year. The long wait for moon starts after sunset. I am told that the moon rises a bit late on this day. This day falls on the Kartik Krishna (dark) Chaturthi and is about 9 days from the Diwali celebrations. The fast is broken after observing the moon through a sieve. The fist sip of food and first morsel of food is offered by the husband.

Applying of Henna on hands the day before is also one of the important customs. Henna symbolizes luck and prosperity. Thus, decorating hand and feet by creating beautiful designs out of henna paste is one of the most common traditions on occasions like marriage. As Karwa Chauth is meant for married woman, the significance of henna increases manifold. There was quite a rush in the market yesterday with women queuing up for applying henna in stalls.

Its equivalent in west would have been a Husband’s Day. This tradition however is observed specially in North India. The tradition does not exist in my corner of the country which is East. In fact we did not know in our childhood that something like this existed. But after watching numerous movies and by virtue of living in North, even my wife had been observing Karwa Chauth since last year. The media exposure and consumerism had also caught the fancy of many women, including working ones. If you do not observe, then you may be scorned at. Anyway, the society has made so many customs for the womenfolk, but none for men! Nothing stops a man from looking at other women even on this day.

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