Stop scaring your daughter-in-law away with Karva Chauth

Gunjan Sangwan
Gunjan SangwanOct 19, 2016 | 20:59

Stop scaring your daughter-in-law away with Karva Chauth

If the logic of Karva Chauth stands fast, all men across the globe, barring India, should be dead or on their death beds by now. Because, hey buddy, your wife didn’t fast enough for you! Losers!

My biggest fear is not simply my best friend’s death, it’s having to bear the brunt of the blame of that death, because I wasn’t a believer. And, in that, I didn’t fast for his long life and health, and hence, somehow perpetrated this death.

Yes, stupid! Yes, foolish! Yes, illogical! Yet, yes, something that eats away at my very core, day in and day out. I remember discussing it with Saurabh once. He laughed it off. Bhakk, pagli. Kuch bhi kehti hai. But I am serious.

We are injected with these what-women-must-do-to-maintain-a-happy-home stereotypes like heroine addicts.

It’s the everyday dose of saas-bahu serials, ads promoting happy married life by women slaving away at the kitchen stove (albeit with a few modern devices and gadgets). It is in our faces when a double bed sheet ad always has women, while a car repair kit has only young men.

It becomes starkly evident during the two-times a week conversation with the in-laws, when at least once I am asked about either an archaic festival or khaana tumne banaya ya maid ne. More so, when a beloved brother-in-law insists on our visits to the in-laws’ home with "Agle four din Gunjan ke haath ka bana hua X, Y, and Z khaenge". Gunjan hates the kitchen and barring a few things, she can’t stand cooking. It was a happy co-incidence that the husband loves cooking and is an exceptional cook. Everyone in the family knows this, yet, Saurabh ke haath se bane hue khaane ki demand nahi hoti.

We are injected with these “what women must do to maintain a happy home (which obviously is her primary object and aim in life)" stereotypes day in and day out like heroine addicts, and thus when a woman refuses to observe karva, she fears that if everyone around her is doing this, what is wrong with her? Her in-laws wonder about this crazy alien who has come into the life of their dulaara beta.

Why is it that my love, faith, trust, belief, et al are dictated by this once perhaps pure, but now simply ostentatious, day garbed as a festival. As a friend pointed out today, you are not supposed to celebrate it, it’s meant to be observed. How many of us truly understand the difference and still believe in the cause?

Neither my dadi nor my mother ever observed this archaic day. Yet, at almost 90, I am blessed with the presence of my dadaji and, at 62, of my father. How did that happen, if none of these women I hold in such high esteem observe this fast.

As a teacher once said, fasting cleanses you; it makes your body work in tandem with nature, and thus, leads to longevity. If you want this country’s population to be healthy, make them fast for at least a day, every week. But uncontrolled fasting by kids and no fasting by men will help no one.

So, back to Karva Chauth. No one forced me to observe this day. However, I can always feel the undercurrents of my mil’s discontent with this decision of her very urban bahu. Strangely, it took a man, in this case my husband, to stand up to her and put his foot down and say that if Gunjan ever does it, he will walk out of the house.

Women dressing up, sharing stories, pampering themselves, perhaps staying away from the kitchen for a day must have been a great start for the festivities. But, in this day and age, when on-the-go meals are the norm and an average working woman spends her time juggling between at least five to six unfinished and 10–11 somewhat attainable tasks, it takes quite a toll.

Take heart husbands and mothers-in-law, it’s a girl, just a girl. She has a lot on her plate. If you want her to pray/wish her husband a long and happy life, let the two go out on a date some evening, without having to worry about the kitchen/kids. Let her go for a holiday with her friends. Let her come home without thinking about what needs to be done.

Let her, for once, be her. She will wish you all the happiness and health. Irrespective.

Last updated: October 19, 2016 | 20:59
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