Karva Chauth

As monsoon has ended, it’s been a great number of holidays getting celebrated: Saturday was Karva Chauth, a Hindu ceremony/festival/event/day for wives. On Karva Chauth, a married woman will get her hands covered in henna (as if she’s being married again), wear her bridal outfit (or another nice outfit if the bridal one won’t fit!), and fast from sunrise to moonrise. Her husband is the one who must advise when the moon is up — and some husbands, I understand, like to tease their wives! Up here, moonrise may not happen until 10:00pm or later, so you could be looking at a 12-14+ hour fast!

On this day, women fast for the health and long life of their husbands – a day of denial on behalf of the men, and the men tend to reward their spouses with gifts. Female friends will share gifts – cosmetics, bindi, bangles, handkerchiefs, that sort of thing. It’s often considered very romantic and has been portrayed in a number of Hindi / Bollywood movies. Sometimes the hero will fast in secret to show his empathy for the girl he wants to marry (or as a good husband, to show empathy for his wife); girls sometimes will fast for their fiancés, or to show their desire for a husband.  As with all fast days, you’re not allowed to sleep: you have to stay up all day, and all night, until you can eat again!

The mother-in-law is traditionally the one who will cook the food for the daughters-in-law to eat, as well as be the one who says when they can drink, and what (water, chai, juice). Some women don’t fast for Karva Chauth – I have a friend whose husband has requested her not to, so she doesn’t; most of the other women I’ve spoken with find that terribly sweet and romantic of him(!).

To my pleasant surprise, one of my students today presented me with bangles, bindi and a pomegranate. The bangles are a little small (I need to see if I can exchange them for larger ones), but it was wholly unexpected; bright orange glass bangles that will match wonderfully with a suit I haven’t had made yet (but the fabric’s on the guest room bed)!

We’ve already been invited to a Diwali party on the 26th, and there’s the WOSA centennial mela (fair) this week… The next few weeks will be busy!

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