Indian Culture, Motherhood, ProBlogger Challenge, Write Tribe

Karwachauth as a breastfeeding mother of a teething toddler

I guess the title sums it up pretty well. Although the term ‘mother of a toddler’ is still hard for me to digest considering she just turned one not even a month ago, but it is what it is. She was a toddler for weeks before that. But I digress.

For the uninitiated, Karwachauth is where married women observe a fast to pray for the long lives of their husbands and eat or drink only after moon rise. For some of us (myself included, by the way) this is an opportunity to dress up like a bride again, to wear mehendi, to feel young and in love all over again.

Being Mamma Bear Karwa chauth breastfeeding mother teething toddler 1.JPG
My first Karwachauth in 2013, wearing my wedding saree.

For me personally, the only difference between Karwachauth and any ordinary day is how I’m dressed and the fact that when I do realise that I haven’t eaten anything for hours, I get to stuff some food in me. Thank you, dear toddler.

Of late, since social media has allowed everyone to be vocal about every single thing they feel (and I realise the irony as I type this 😆) Karwachauth has been criticised as being patriarchal and women have questioned the logic behind how one person’s starvation increases the life span of another. I don’t know how it does that either, but then before we brand everything to do with our culture as patriarchal and ancient in an attempt to be modern and progressive, let us not forget that just a few days ago on Ashtami /Navami (8th or 9th day of Navaratri) we celebrated the girl child, and in a few days there’s Lakshmi Pooja. I hope we’re going to collectively raise our voices against not celebrating boy babies. Why is only the girl child so much more special, right?

And while we’re questioning the logic behind things, let us also ask ourselves why we spend so much money – an amount that could otherwise have been put to much better use – on one big party; a wedding. As if saying a few mantras or saying ‘I do’ is going to bind you together forever any more than it would if you were to do it in a smaller setting? In fact, why get married at all? Aren’t those customs a part of our age old culture made by ‘society’ too? Celebrate love any way you want, in that case. Marriage is still marriage if you just sign a piece of paper and let go of the big party.

But that’s not how we do things! We love the idea of a grand wedding and how romantic it all sounds – the dressing up, the music, the merriment, the food, being surrounded by the people we love (and the uncle from flat number 902 who had to be invited with his whole family, because otherwise it would be awkward when we meet in the lift).

Speaking of romance, Karwachauth is widely popular and celebrated not just by married women in North India because to a large extent Bollywood has romanticised it. Should we blame Bollywood then? Perhaps, but unless a woman is made to fast and thus ‘starve’ against her will, I see no harm in doing something for someone you love, without expecting the other person to do the same for you. There are people who do a 7-day ‘detox’ (or whatever it is called, I’ve never done it) to lose weight and conform to media’s ridiculous standards of beauty and the perfect figure, but staying hungry and thirsty for almost 16 hours once a year is going to kill women. Yeah, right.

That said, of course it doesn’t matter if you don’t fast. Do whatever makes you happy and feel free to disregard anything you’re uncomfortable with. But I think most women who have access to social media and are capable of reading posts that term Karwachauth as regressive and patriarchal are literate and educated, and smart enough to decide for themselves whether they want to do this or not for whatever their personal reasons might be.

Being Mamma Bear Karwa chauth breastfeeding mother teething toddler 2.JPG

I do it because I think it’s sweet and cute to do something like this once a year to celebrate love; our own Desi Valentine’s Day. Is that childish? Maybe, but it doesn’t hurt or harm anyone else! Does my husband expect me to do this? Not at all. It’s not even celebrated where he’s from. Does he stop me from fasting? Not really. Does he fast with me? Yes, for as long as he can. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday – observed a fast for as long as I could because beyond 4 PM, I just could not.

I don’t know how she does it, maybe there are some antennae inside her that catch such signals but every single time there’s something major about to happen the following day – I either have to be up early, or we have to go somewhere, or both, or I need to conserve all my energy to fast the following day – Laddoo decides that it’s the perfect time to mix things up. The night before, she will either stay up way, way past her bedtime making it impossible for me to get decent sleep, or wake up in the middle of the night and just refuse to go back to sleep for a couple of hours at least, once again, making it impossible for me to get decent sleep.

This time, she did the latter. She was asleep by 11 PM and I turned in around 12:45 AM as well which was three hours too early for me. But around 2:30 the baby toddler woke up for some milk and refused to go back to sleep. When we tried to pacify her, rock her, hold her, she screamed. She finally stopped when we took her to the living room and let her loose among her toys.

She seemed happy then but even that lasted for barely 30 minutes and the tears started again. I picked her up and rocked her for god knows how long and finally around 5:15 AM she allowed be to put her back on the bed and nurse her. Around 5:45 she unlatched. I think she’s teething again. I foresee the entire coming week to be full of cuddles and nursing sessions.

I had my first coffee at 6:15 AM. Maybe that means I didn’t fast at all, but after sleeping for barely 2 hours, it was time for me to do some work. I worked until 8:45 AM and joined my husband and baby girl in bed to catch a few winks. In two more hours, we were all up and Laddoo needed to be fed (Papa took care of that), bathed and put back down for a nap. And once again, around 1 PM I had another cup of coffee because I couldn’t keep my eyes open or think straight because of the throbbing pain in my head.

Around 4 PM, I gave up and had lunch. The baby needed me, more frequently than I had anticipated. At the onset, I knew that I may not be able to fast till the end, but I felt horrible that I ate at 4 PM.

But then I realised that what matters is that I tried. What’s more important is that my baby was fed and comforted. What’s important is that it doesn’t matter to my husband that I ate a few hours earlier than I was supposed to. In fact he was relieved because that meant he could eat earlier too.

Last year, I couldn’t observe the fast because Laddoo was just a little over a month old and I needed to eat on time to heal and recover from the surgery. This year, the toddler’s sleep (or lack of it) and teething troubles got in the way.

But next year, hopefully, I will not only be able to fast till moonrise, I will also do the mehendi, dressing up, et all.


I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge.

 

19 thoughts on “Karwachauth as a breastfeeding mother of a teething toddler”

  1. Good post! I don’t celebrate this holiday for the reasons you mentioned but I agree we have to be consistent…for my wedding, I had a small intimate wedding where we removed patriarchial traditions 🙂

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  2. Loved reading your post. I also think similar. There is nothing patriarchal in Karwa Chauth these days. We have customized the fasting based on our body and routine. I also love to observe this fast. I like dressing up like a bride and doing pooja along with my husband. I have no issue with the fast and I guess people are trying to scrutinize its existence. By The Way, you look beautiful 🙂

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  3. Loved the read! Very insightful. I don’t observe the Karwachauth fast, even though my family does. No, I am not averse to it 🙂 i observe some other pativrata fasts 🙂 I believe these traditions and rituals have been made to bring us closer together and create a loving bond! For me the essence of Karwachauth or teej lies in the love and special care that the husband shows for his wife on that day. These festivals are what makes memories that we will cherish for years to come.

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  4. The concept of KC is alien to me as we don’t have any similar event in our community. However i have fasted over many years and I felt a sense of good within. That I think is what matters. How you feel inside. If doing something makes you feel like someone forced you to or that it’s required of you then that’s not the right thing to do. And I think this applies to anything in general not just karwachauth

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  5. I am with you Nikki, there are always two ways of looking at culture and religion. I always choose to look at the positive manner.

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  6. Glad you voiced your own choices. It shows great strength of character to stick to your own beliefs when there’s so much views and debate around them. Do what you have learnt over the years and what your instincts tell you. That’s one of the best lessons we can give to our children.

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  7. Your post reminded me of the time when I kept fast as a new mom. My MAIL told me to take fruits too. Agree with you..it’s all about feelings more than anything else.

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  8. I am among the patriarchal people, unfortunately , to the extent that I am not just feminist, I am utterly biased towards the female gender. Call it right or wrong but that’s who I am. Whatever said and done MEN are directly or indirectly considered superior gender than women in our society. Also, i feel me fasting and starving to an angry depressed person by the end of the day will not extend my husband life or love between us. I do is only for FUN reasons but I didn’t because I am a mother of a toddler too and in spite of Sunday my husband can not full-fledged attend my daughter. it ‘ll be impossible for me to survive without water with a toddler. It wouldn’t have been FUN so I didn’t. I respect your choice and thought as you said social media has allowed everyone to be vocal about every single thing they feel. Cheers to vocal freedom through social media.

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  9. Absolutely true.Be independent,be true to yourselves,listen to your inner self ,listen to your body and be sensible.Don’t do anything by force or because people are applying emotional blackmail .At the same time DON’T ‘not do something’ just to be different or to be what you call a woman of today.
    I have fasted for many years now because of my own minds conviction, however I have diabetes now so have suitably modified to having twice water and tea in between.So it is all a question of following your own body,mind and beliefs.Being a woman of today automatically follows.
    Good to read your post and all the best for your future days of decking up ,feeling special and all that you desire.

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  10. I love the very pertinent questions you have raised about branding everything about our culture as patriarchal. Also kudos to you for starting the fast on a promising note and then being sensible enough to decide to end it as and when required.

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  11. Honestly, I don’t fast on karwachauth, not believe in worshiping girls during Navratri, neither agree to spend everything just to have a grand wedding. For me all this looks a little complicated. I believe in simplicity and don’t like to complicate life. I kept fast on my 1st karwachauth, because everyone believed I couldn’t do it, I was 7 months pregnant, but I did not eat not drink, just to prove to the society that women are capable of everything in any situation. Next year onwards I knew I don’t have to prove it. Love is a sacred feeling, unspoken, hidden deep inside. Yes, I do like to dress up sometimes but days can’t bound me for that too. Loved how you portrayed your thoughts in this post.

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  12. It’s absolutely fine to adjust according to the needs of the moment. It’s the intentions which matter actually ! There is no justification or need to feel bad when it comes to the well being our little one, your baby needs you the most. He is God himself!
    Wonderful post

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  13. More power to you mama. I’m sure it gets better, and she will be grown up, not needing to be nursed and you can observe your fast. On such days, do look back on this post 🤗

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  14. I am proud of you for listening to your body and your toddler’s needs of course 🙂 Thankfully, mine did not trouble me much and let me fast.

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  15. Nikita, you shouldn’t feel bad for eaten ng before moonrise especially when you are bfeeding. Whatever hours you did the fasting, it was from the bottom of your heart and that’s what matters more.

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  16. For 3 years I did this fast on fruits (one year of pregnancy and 2 years of Bfeeding…however, everyone in the family told me to eat normally. But I like to do it…so I fast…its a way of celebrating love truly…. And yes…kids can sense that we have something important planned the next day and they have their own plans then 😉 …loved reading your post…as always

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