It’s that time of the year again when I am usually nudged awake by my better half at an ungodly hour to devour my share of ‘sargi’. This is a predawn meal for married women who, prior to fasting for the longevity of their husband’s lives, gorge on food before sunrise — to remain functional for the rest of the day. Every year, I give ‘sargi’ a miss, since leaving the cosy bed at that hour is non-negotiable.
Incredulous as it sounds, the Karva Chauth fast is the most tedious of all. It does not even permit a sip of water all day. The day is signified by a thousand tummy growls and a parched throat throughout the day.
Losing a few grams of fat, releasing toxins and gaining bonus years for him sounds like a good deal. I certainly don’t believe that my fasting will help my better half in any way, but the whole act of being selfless and the beautiful thought behind Karva Chauth makes me want to be a part of this wonderful festival year after year.
I like to dress up, looking much like a bright Diwali gift wrapper in red, orange and gold, only to be defeated by my overly enthusiastic colleagues at the office. Greetings and sympathetic hugs are traded, notes about our “sargi” menu are exchanged, and I usually end up winning brownie points on telling them that my fast began after last night’s dinner itself. In terms of the Indian wife’s ultimate sacrifice, the bar has been set high. Even if, by sheer lethargy!
The highly anticipated liquid break takes place in the evening. The latter part of the day passes by effortlessly with friends dropping over, chitchatting, dressing up all over again, and clicking mandatory pictures of happy faces and “henna-ed” hands.
As the sky takes on darker shades of grey and black, women look up searchingly. Among the twinkling stars, eyes search for the much revered celestial body, pristine in its imperfections. This is when the much revered moon is predicted to surface and will thus, allow us to break our day-long fast. My better half and I frantically look for the divine celestial body on the terrace, but in vain! Then it is decided to drive towards Sukhna Lake for a fitter view. On getting off the car, we spot the beautifully flamed moon.
It almost looked like it had coloured itself red, to match the passionate spirit of the married women waiting for it all day. There were at least 100 couples of all age groups, looking at the moon and praying fervently for the good health and longevity of their husbands’ life. This is what faith does. It asks no questions. It only gives answers. It makes the most sceptical of us defy logic and love with all our hearts.
He gives me water to drink, as I smile ear to ear. The hunger pangs, dried up throats, the willpower to maintain the self-imposed fast are all worth it when your partner, at the end of the day, knows that he ought to break it with a huge slice of rich chocolate cake!
Happy Karva Chauth ladies!
The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance writer