15 October, 2018
With the advent of October, we have moved into the most festive season of this year. We have Navaratri going on now, and then we also have Karva Chauth on 27th October, followed by Diwali in November. Many families have been traditionally been following these festivals in ways that have been passed on from generation to generation.
For Karva Chauth, the belief is that the married woman fasts from dawn to dusk till the moon rises and prays for the wellbeing of her husband. This has been practiced for centuries. However, it became really popular as a festival only when Bollywood movies brought it in with a song, dance, gaiety, and a little bit of romance. That made it fashionable for people to observe the vrat, even though, they otherwise may not have been following the same. The downside of this, however, is the fact that in the recent past, like many traditions and festivals, this one too has been dubbed as regressive.
While earlier generations, happily carried on traditions and festivals, as passed by their forefathers, the current generation is not necessarily so. Many among the young, are questioning such beliefs as to why only a woman should observe a fast for husband’s well being and not vice versa and so on. So, how then can one explain Karva Chauth or its importance to the younger generation?
Well, the query would have come tomorrow, if not today; so, the earlier, the better. It is good if the next gen is questioning these things in a way. It should be looked upon by the older generation as an opportunity to explain things to them. The idea never should be to convince or force someone to follow some traditions blindly. It has to come from within, and should be followed by will and only then will it be a true vrat. So, there is a need to for the older generation to understand the stories behind Karva Chauth and tell it to the next gen.
Karva Chauth is observed on the Chathurthi of the Kartik month, by offering Argya to the moon. Ladies observe vrat (fasting) on that day and eat a meal, only after they see their husband’s faces in the moonlight, and they say their prayers. Ladies also get together and pray and sing and dance to keep themselves occupied as well. There are many stories behind this. The legendary story of a queen Veervati, who visited her father’s house during Karva Chauth and got tricked by her loving brothers into breaking her fast and lost her husband and then got him back with dedication, is often retold to indicate the importance of Karva Chauth.
Also, many relate this festival to how Draupadi, on advice from Lord Krishna, observed this vrat and helped the Pandavas to gain back their kingdom. Even the legendary story of Satyavan Savitri is linked to this vrat by many regions in India. So, whatever the belief, there is an underlying belief that the prayers done on this day with a dedicated vrat, has great powers to help the safekeeping of one’s husband. In the later days, it has been told that ladies continued to observe this since their husbands serving in the army, and fighting constant battles, found solace in this vrat, by praying for their wellbeing.
So, there are underlying beliefs involved in this vrat that has kept this tradition going. Nowadays, almost all women are highly educated, and still, most of them choose to keep this vrat on their own volition. So, the idea is that it is good to carry on a tradition, especially if you can and if it is harmless to others around. There is nothing wrong in praying for the welfare of the husband and the family as well. We do it on a daily basis, and hence, there is nothing really regressive about the practice. It is all dependent on our mindset; however, it should be made clear that it is not forced on anyone and people are free to follow their heart. If you are skeptical, you may choose to look at it as an opportunity to detox, de-stress, socialize, pray and also carry on a tradition, for as long as is possible.
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