I got up today at the crack of dawn and raided the kitchen. No, I was not cheating on my diet. It was a pre-emptive strike before a day of fabled fasting called Karva Chauth in north India.
The story of Karva Chauth is totally regressive. In the story, the men involved are at fault, and it is unclear why the woman has to fast to compensate for their mistakes.
Our women politicians, with their half-inch thick powder sindoor cutting their heads in perfect halves, have not helped.
I don't think I will ever be able to see some of our cabinet ministers in full bridal regalia, complete with henna and bangles, doing the traditional dance. Where is temporary amnesia when you really need it?
Ekta Kapoor and Karan Johar didn't help either with their idea of temple sari-wearing, lovelorn, "doormat" wives fasting and waiting for their alcoholic, workaholic or uncaring husbands to return.
The ritual has been labelled anti-feminist as the woman fasts for the long life of her husband while her health takes a beating. But this isn't that bad really! We know many woman starve to fit into size eight dresses that only their sharp friends notice. So if you can fast for the nth Facebook "like", why not for your partner?
But seriously, that's not my observation or argument here.
The ritual has also been labelled shallow because it's all about designer saris and new jewellery, and before the fast, extended feasts and kitty parties. A show-off fest with all significance of the ritual being lost.
|None of my female friends fast for their husbands. That says something.|
But what if the husbands fasted too?
How about two people, seemingly in love, fasting for the long life of each other? You spend the day in denial thinking about your other half, your love and a lot about your dinner. But really, it is a day of reflection on a marriage and a long-standing relationship which is often forgotten in the "likes" and "smileys" of WhatsApp and Facebook. It is a sacrifice for the healthy life of each other. A reminder of the love you share. You dress up for each other (minus gaudy red and gold hopefully), look at the moon and then at each other and break the fast. That's pretty romantic.
You may think it is a nice fantasy. But as I sat planning for the day (can't starve without military planning), I realised that the only friends who were fasting with me were both males. None of my female friends fast for their husbands. That says something. Maybe we are changing as a society.
In my family, all the men keep a fast. My grandfather was a revolutionary. He used to say, "I don't want to live without my wife." I am not sure he loved her that much, but he liked the idea of making a statement. Especially a grand one. We have followed the tradition into the third generation now. All the men in my family fast. No questions asked. It's a nice and quiet way of saying we are all equally precious. And one life is not more worthy than another.
I have never felt less than a man. Never. If anything, always more.
Back to tradition and reality. Yes, we are all cranky and ready to kill each other by the evening (but that's another story) and each of us has his/her own way of coping and killing. But then, it all comes together over a big family dinner the minute (second) the moon is out. Kids are on moon watch with sophisticated telescopes.
Eat, love, pray. Or love, pray, eat in this case. That's pretty cool. Because #RealMenFast!
Let's hope the cabinet minister makes that change when she does her dance for the cameras. What could be a better way to say "equal rights for women" and "we are changing yet are grounded in tradition"? Because then, I won't wish for amnesia.