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.
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.
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.