I got married around 2 years back and marrying him has surely been the best decision of my life. I love him dearly – he is my best friend and my biggest supporter. We have seen each other in the best and worst days now – sickness, bad moods, and tantrums. We have jointly bought our new home recently.
Today is Karva Chauth, the day on which you have instructed women to pray for the longevity of our husbands’ lives. The usual mandate by you to ensure that our prayers are answered is – fast from sunrise to moonrise without any food (and water, too in some households). Also, the evening pooja has to be done only after we get dolled up with sindoor, bangles, toe rings, bindi and the traditional red color saree.
I decided to skip the ritual of the fast entirely. I ensured that I ate well like I do on most days.
You ask – Why did I do so?
I didn’t fast today because I don’t think it helps my husband’s life and prosperity. You being the society have made norms and asked everyone to follow them since several years. But, I think you made a critical mistake in not considering an important part of a free, progressive society – choice. You have not asked for the choice of wives, you have just made these customs compulsory for almost every Hindu married woman. Don’t you think you need to reconsider your stand?
How will starving add years to my husband’s life?
When I told people that I didn’t fast, they raised eyebrows and exclaimed surprise. One of the elder relatives even responded saying,
“Looks like you don’t care about your husband at all. These modern girls do not understand the importance of marriage and customs at all!”
Many others nodded their head in agreement. They were quick to conclude that people like me do not make for a caring wife. They were furious to know that I disrespected such an age long tradition. The surprising fact is none of them knew how fasting would increase my husband’ life in any rational way.
One of them retorted that the fast is kept for the love of the husband. I appreciate her emotion but that leads to another question – Why is fasting restricted to only one partner? Should both of them not do it for the love of the other?
Honestly speaking, this tradition is an example of gender inequality that has been seethed in you since ages. It subtly says that a wife needs to prove her love for the husband because the man is more important than a woman is. As an educated woman, I refuse to accept this notion. I truly believe that men and women are equals.
Also, considering that I am a working woman, a complete day’s fast is not ideal for my office duties. The more important thought is that I don’t even feel the need of keeping the fast.
I believe that there are many other things that a wife can do to increase her husband’s life and prosperity – being understanding and supportive is the most important. Also, taking care of one’s health will bring much more happiness to their lives rather than falling sick.
Let me be clear –
I am not against those who follow such tradition by their own choice. I am against those who judge other women who do not follow this tradition. Everyone needs to understand the importance of choice in our personal lives.
I ask you to understand one simple fact – even those who do not believe in fasting are good wives. Let’s reconsider such a tradition which leads to weakening of health. Let’s empower everyone with the power of choice.