Did You Know You Can Call Karwa Chauth Patriarchal But Still Respect Women’s Choice To Observe It?

Did You Know You Can Call Karwa Chauth Patriarchal But Still Respect Women’s Choice To Observe It?

Women across the country have been jumping in joy for days and today is the day that they’ve all been preparing for. Yep, I’m talking about Karwa Chauth. From getting their mehendi in place to putting together their look for tonight, women have spent weeks putting things together for this day. And while we love the buzz of the festive season and Karwa Chauth, I cannot help be think about the deep patriarchal roots of this fast and tradition. As much I love the vibe of Karwa Chauth, I cannot help but point out the fact that women fasting without even having water from sunrise to moonrise, may or may not increase the life span of their husbands but it sure does affect their own health and not in a good way.

TBH, to me, it seems like we’re so taken by social media that we’re simply doing this for the sake of creating content as opposed to doing it because it matters to us. And amid all this, we’ve forgotten how deeply patriarchal this fast is and how it has been designed to target women under the garb of love and tradition. Most of us are busy posting our big thaali of sargi and Karwa Chauth gifts from our mother-in-laws on social media, no thanks to Bollywood for giving us that! But not many of us have stopped to think how this tradition thrives on patriarchy and starving women (quite literally).

How And Why Is Karwa Chauth Patriarchal?

TBH, I shouldn’t have to explain this to you but I’ll still do it. For the longest time, women have been the “second sex” or the “weaker sex” and have been treated like second-class citizens and it continues till date. And Karwa Chauth is the proof of it. Karwa Chauth is society’s way of telling us that we’re nothing without our husbands and that our lives mean nothing. More importantly, society chooses to starve women for the sake of their husbands’ lives because, of course, our lives don’t matter much (note the sarcasm). I know, I know most of you are probably thinking “but I’m doing it out of choice” or “isn’t fasting a great way to detox?”. Yes, you’re doing this out of choice and fasting is a great way to detox but think about this, why on this very day? Why “detox” for the long life of a man? And speaking of choice, is it really your choice or the years of conditioning by society and Bollywood that’s urging you to keep this fast? And more importantly, are you keeping it because you don’t want to feel left out and alone?

Women have been raised with the pressure of taking responsibility for men and being held accountable for them. All my life, I’ve seen teenage girls cooking and taking care of the house when their mother is away because the ADULT men of the house are “incapable” of taking care of themselves. In simple words, women have been taught to believe that it’s their responsibility to take care of men which includes warding off any evil that can harm their man and being their man’s protector even if it means starving and remaining thirsty for an entire day. And the irony here is that we women are still treated like damsels in distress!

Also Read: Hautetalk: Rhea Kapoor Was Called “Silly” For Not Believing In Karva Chauth. Why Are We Still So Regressive?

Further, this practice is regressive because it tells women that it’s their sole responsibility to make sacrifices for their husbands because their husband’s life is of utmost importance. More importantly, it tells women that marriage is not a partnership of equality and that the man is, of course, more important and without him she will be lost and unworthy. Now, I do agree that a lot of men have taken a step to make this a shared tradition by fasting for the long life of their wives but allow me to explain how that does not really help. Men can join the festivities but it doesn’t change the fact that Karwa Chauth is not only sexist but also unequal. When the tradition in itself is sexist, how can men following it along with women make it any better? And let’s be honest, for men, it’s an actual choice whereas for women it’s a responsibility. And husbands fasting for their wives just romanticises this fast so much more instead of shunning this practice making it tougher for women to have the choice to not observe the fast.

The Instagram Karwa Chauth Trope Makes It Lonely For Women To Exercise Their Choice

Just last night, I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across a series of messages from women, shared by journalist Aishwarya Subramanyam aka Otherwarya, about how they often feel guilty sometimes for not observing Karwa Chauth and also feel left out because everyone is posting pictures of the festivities on their social media handles and on Whatsapp groups. A major reason why most women just keep the fast is the Instagram trope that makes them feel left out and gives them FOMO. TBH, that’s a big reason why I wanted to keep Karwa Chauth last year before my marriage broke down. Had it not been for a life-changing incident, I would have kept Karwa Chauth, not because I believed in it but because I would’ve felt left out with all women around me keeping the fast while I didn’t. But I’m glad that the Universe gave me a message and taught me why I need to stand my ground and give my beliefs and feminism more value than FOMO and the Instagram trope.

But Feminism Is Also About Choice

Speaking of feminism, it’s also essential that we respect women and their choices. Shaming women for keeping the fast and being the flagbearer of patriarchy isn’t the right way to go either. As a feminist, I have always advocated for women and their freedom of choice and shaming someone for keeping a fast that has deep patriarchal roots is not feminism. It’s important that we make peace with the fact that Karwa Chauth is sexist but at the same time, we may feel that way about it but it’s not important that everyone feel, think and do as we like. Patriarchy has been forcing its beliefs and traditions and oppressing our gender for forever and if feminism also forces women to do something instead of letting them do as they please, how are we any different?

Also Read: From Alia Bhatt’s Mohey To Dabur’s Karva Chauth, 5 Indian Ads That Courted Controversy

So, this Karwa Chauth celebrate love, women and feminism.

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Janvi Manchanda

​​She uses her pen to slice through patriarchy. She could be Geet one day, Wednesday Addams next. Writing is the bane of her existence and the object of all her desires!

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