PinkVilla published a video chat with actress Ratna Pathak Shah on July 26. During the interview, when discussing society and how tough it is for women in India, she made an odd remark regarding the Hindu holiday Karwa Chauth. According to Shah, India is on its way to becoming a conservative society, similar to Saudi Arabia. Someone had questioned her last year if she kept the Karwa Chauth fast or not. “Am I insane?” Shah had responded to the inquiry. Ratna Pathak Shah is Naseeruddin Shah’s wife.
Karwa Chauth is an ancient practice observed by North Indian Hindu women during which they fast and pray for the long life of their husbands. “Nothing has changed for women, or very little has changed in critical areas,” she remarked. Our culture is getting increasingly conservative. We’re getting superstitious, and we’re being compelled to accept and make religion a big part of our lives. Last year, I was questioned for the first time if I was maintaining ‘karwa Chauth ka rate (observing karwa Chauth). “I asked myself, ‘Am I crazy?'”
She further added, “Isn’t it appalling that modern educated women do karwa Chauth, praying for the lives of husbands so that they can have some validity in life? A widow in the Indian context is a horrible situation, isn’t it? So anything that keeps me away from widowhood. Really? In the 21st century, we are talking like this? Educated women are doing this.”
Shah said that when a country becomes more conservative, it clamps down its women first. She said, “Look at all the conservative societies in this world. Women are the ones who are most affected. What’s the scope of women in Saudi Arabia? Do we want to become like Saudi Arabia? And we will become because it’s very, very convenient. Women provide a lot of unpaid labour within the home. If you have to pay for that labor, who will do it? Women are forced into that situation.”
She stated that advertisements for such services were an indication that India was becoming orthodox, referring to other Hindu rituals such as Kundali (Astrology) and Vastu. She also used the rise of Godmen like Nityananda to highlight her fears about India becoming more traditional.
Furthermore, she talked about the murder of Dhaborkar and the delay in the trial of the case, she said, “When a rationalist like Dhaborkar gets killed in broad daylight, and nothing can be done about it. His trial is still going on. We are moving towards an extremely conservative society.”
This is not the first time when a celebrity has disgraced a Hindu festival. Be it Diwali, Holi or any other ancient Hindu day, the derogatory statements via such celebrities re often observed. Without realising the significance of these festivals, people are aften seen commenting and insulting the celebrations and their purity. If celebrating Karva chauth according to the actress is conservative then what about wearing Hijab? Where a lot of women have come ahead of not wanting to wear it especially in the ongoing summer season, how progressive is that according to her.