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Karwa Chauth & its significance in the life of Hindu women.

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The festival of Karwa Chauth is celebrated on the fourth day after the full moon or the Kathilk Poornima. This festival is very prevalent in North West India. there are other parts that celebrate this festival and many folk lore are attached to it. In this article I focus on how it is celebrated in Rajasthan!

It’s a festival celebrated by the married women to pray for the long life of their husbands. Decoding the name of the festival – karwa means an earthen pot and chauth is the fourth day. The Rajasthani women take a token karwa, add some wheat to it and fill it with water. This is kept during the pooja they perform in the morning with all the married women of the house and the eldest lady leading the pooja. A story related to the fast is narrated followed by a tale of Ganesha. In Rajasthani tradition each tale which is narrated on any religious festival customarily ends with a tale on Ganesh Devata. That is considered auspicious. The karwa is kept aside and water from the karwa is offered to the moon when it rises, along with the wheat and its then that the lady breaks her fast. The festival coincides with the crop sowing time, (Rabi crop) and big earthern pots used to store grains were also called karwas, hence the festival could have begun as a prayer for a rich harvest.
The men folk of Rajasthan were engaged in warfare and travelled afar, so the ladies took to praying for their long life. Later on they used o travel to long distances to earn their livelihood and the tradition continued.
The women dress up in finest attire, bejeweled; at times they choose to adorn their wedding outfit. Shopping begins few days in advance and it’s a festival that is celebrated with a lot of faith, devotion and enthusiasm.
A PERSPECTIVE
It is quite fashionable to critique this festival as a regressive and patriarchal one. The view seems quite myopic and hypocritical. Those who ridicule and take a high stand are not only belittling others but are trying to curb their freedom of choice, the very human right that they wish to champion.
This also seems a selective targeted mockery. There are festivals celebrating fasting…celebrating sighting of moon…celebrating the well being of family and the liberals not only seem to be comfortable with it, rather they hail it as necessary fabric of society.
India is an agricultural land and most of its festivals have a correlation with harvest cycles. Gradually they have also merged with certain societal factors. A spiritual land of rishis and gurus- Saadhna and upwaas (fasting) hold a very lofty significance. This insight into history and spirituality is completely lacking in the approach of half baked intellectuals!

As far as the real feminists and evolved women of our country are concerned, they are worshipped as Devis throughout the year as Saraswati, Durga, Kali, and Parvati!! They do not need any validation as no one is more secure than the Devis of our Bharata!

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for the context. Regardless of the meaning the festival held at the time, during which it absolutely made sense for it to be performed exactly the way it is beautifully described in this article, in the present era, it is simply performed as a measure of pati vrata, the concept of which is utterly patriarchal and misogynist. I am Hindu and am considered pretty right wing, but modifications to traditions should not be ignored. For one thing, Hinduism, a non-Abrahamic religion, has always had the idea of living Gurus to offer contemporary wisdom so that it did not become dogmatic. Swami Vivekanand spoke of the Hindu renaissance. Upanishads were supposed to be updated. In such context, sticking with traditions for the sake of doing so is definitely regressive and disregards the progressive, non-restrictive aspect of the religion. Justifying sexism in a society that remains in the clutches of misogynist thinking doesn’t help.

    Am I for throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Definitely not. Since the men are no longer fighting wars, and most women no longer praying for their safe return, it makes sense for both genders to follow the tradition, with equal respect to both spouses. Occasional fasting has anyway been shown to be good for health and works at a cellular level to detox. But we cannot afford to be dogmatic if we are to differentiate from the dogmatic thinking that we become inculcated in due to current educational systems.

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