There’s a recent movement in India; a push for women’s rights, which I think is excellent. We’ve witnessed our fair share of the mistreatment of women and young girls in our country. But, in the hurdle to achieve gender neutrality among our people, we shouldn’t be sacrificing our religion and what it stands for.
Social media was blasting me all week with messages that elude to ending Karva Chauth. I celebrate the auspicious occasion quite traditionally and was disheartened by these messages, which appeared to stem from a lack of knowledge.
I don’t believe any religion would condone the mistreatment of any kind of people. Furthermore, I believe in true Hinduism, women are considered to be Durga deities and young girls are celebrated as Kanjaks. Contrary to popular belief, Karva Chauth is not something created to torture women by starving them and forcing them to bow down to their more superior husbands, though I would agree that some people have adapted it that way. And without getting too much into the origins of the tradition and trying to rectify it’s explanation through a history lesson, I’d like to articulate how important it is to adapt a religion to the changing times.
When traditions are first created, they make sense during the circumstances of that time period. They may later stop making sense, but what they signify is different from the ritual practices. In other words, how you celebrate your marriage may change with time, but the fact remains that Karva Chauth is to be understood as a day to celebrate your sacred relationship and to recognize it as more than a simple commitment between a man and a women. In Hinduism, it’s believed to be a holy bond that transcends our lifetime and physical space.
Perhaps fasting doesn’t make sense to you this day in age; or doing aarti to your husband. Perhaps your husband feels he needs to fast with you or buy you a gift to show his appreciation for the sacrifice you made in the name of his well-being. Some women have tea or milk during the day; others skip Sargi; others love the opportunity to have their mother-in-law cook a lavish meal for them; still others see it as a time to play dress up with their sisters-in-law and build companionships with the women in their family.
However you prefer to celebrate the occasion, do not let it lose its meaning in our religion. Do not end Karva Chauth. Respect that a good marriage requires a lot of effort, appreciation, dedication and sacrifice. Karva Chauth is a reminder of those values and virtues. It’s wrong to think it’s to promote misogyny or to accuse Hinduism for the mistreatment of women. We need to make an effort to adapt our religion to our modern times rather than to abandon it altogether.