“Karva Chauth is just like any other festival-full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” wrote in Chhavi from Delhi.
“I love the concept of wives keeping fast for their husbands. But do we really need a particular day to pray for the well-being of those dear to us? Shouldn’t we do it everyday?” opined Jyotsna, a surfer from Mississauga, Canada.
On the other hand, Deepak from Patna wrote: “KC is, and has always been, a sacred ritual/festival. It symbolizes a wife’s sacrifice and love for her husband.”
These comments reflect the three main arguments that emerged from the responses to our survey on the meaning of Karva Chauth.
Interestingly, the women who responded said men should keep a fast along with them, while the males were of the opinion that fasting and praying belonged exclusively to the female domain.
“Why should we fast? Tradition has always demanded that women do the praying and fasting bit, so it is best kept that way,” said Nikhil from Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
“We pray for our husbands. But who prays for us?” asked Mili from Jalandhar. Isn’t it fair that someone asks God to bless us too?”
Jatinder from Simi Valley, Canada wrote: “Most likely, fasting became a tradition in the days when women stayed at home and husbands were the breadwinners of the house. But today's woman is educated and can stand on her own. And she is equal to her partner in life and raising a family. Then why are only women suppose to sacrifice? We (Indians) are the biggest hypocrites. For this reason, I have never asked my wife to keep fast on Karva Chauth.”
RC Dhanda from Sterling, Virginia had an interesting point. She said: “I think this festival has been introduced by ‘macho’ men, since Hindu society has always been dominated by males. This festival enhances the male ego. Men feel ‘wanted’ and stuff up with pride while the women fast, without even a drop of water. So I think Karva Chauth is grossly unfair to women and should be given up completely.”
Most of our surfers harped on the sacrifice aspect of KC. It was only a few, like Mala from Shaharanpur, who worried that the meaning of Karva Chauth had been lost in the trappings of gaiety and merry-making following the festival. She commented: “Tradition has lost its meaning in today’s world. For youngsters, all religious tradition is a time for having fun, taking a break from work and catching up with friends. Ask them the meaning of a ritual, and they are at a loss for words.”
The numbers only served to underline these opinions. 84 people said Karva Chauth is a day to pray for their spouse. 12 said they were not sure and that they never celebrate the festival, while 18 people said KC is just another festival.
Meanwhile, 58 people said that a particular day should not be reserved for prayers for their beloved. They were of the opinion that love is a constant emotion and that it is meant to last a lifetime. 45 people said it is a good idea to fast once a year, since it brings results. Only 2 people were unsure and said they haven’t fasted before.
Interestingly, opinions were neck-and neck when it came to the reasons why women kept a fast. While 45 people said they do it because it is part of tradition, 46 people said women fast because they believe in the sanctity and effectiveness of Karva Chauth. Only 13 people said they succumb to familial pressures and so are forced to keep a fast.
A whopping 88 people said women should not fast at the cost of their health, while only 13 people said fasting is not likely to cause serious damage. 3 people, meanwhile, said since fasting for Karva Chauth is only for a day, it didn’t really affect the health.
63 people said men should also keep a fast along with their wives. 27 remained non-committal but said it would be a good idea. 14 people on the other hand, said tradition has to be followed strictly.
The last question also elicited a neck-and neck response. While 35 people said Karva Chauth had lost its meaning for youngsters today, 31 said festivals as a whole had become redundant in the modern world. Close behind were 38 people who preferred not to comment.
So that’s it on Karva Chauth. Vox Populi will be back with an interesting debate next week. Till then, happy surfing!