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When I fasted for my first Karva Chauth, I had a glamorous idea about the Festival, thanks to Bollywood movies (the one performed at home by my mother and aunts was not as fascinating, so I choose to describe the reel ones :D). Women forgo food and water as a mark of love for their husband, praying for their long life and breaking there fast after seeing their other half (and the moon) through a round sieve, with a lit diya kept on the rim of the said sieve. I can picture Kajol and Shah Rukh in DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge)- Kajol trying to get Shah Rukh, her true love, and not her fiancé (Parmeet Sethi), to give her the first sip of water, breaking the fast and symbolizing their true love and forever after.
Now before I progress further, let me take a moment to let you know that I'm a self-confessed "modern girl with traditional values". So there are beliefs that I question and then there are others that I follow blindly. Fasting on Karva Chauth is an Indian tradition that I love and follow religiously. Reason: I would do anything in my power to make my husband's life happy and healthy. And if I can appease the Gods and Goddesses by fasting on Karva Chauth, so be it.
Many women my age question that if Karva Chauth is a Festival observed only by Indian women, then the men of all other communities and castes should have become extinct by now! To this, my reply is that it does not matter which caste, community, race, religion one belongs to- if the lady of the house is told that she can do something to keep her family together, to keep them healthy and happy, she will do it. No questions asked! That is how the XX chromosome is designed in us. Women are nurturers, caregivers- whether the lady of the house if a full-time homemaker or juggles a career along with being a housewife, they will have the intrinsic need and urge to always do the best for their loved ones.
Superstitions are crucial to those who believe in them and are hogwash to those who don't. For those who do believe in them (let us call them Z), if someone (let us call them B) does not follow the guidelines for that particular superstition and something bad happens to them, Z will tell B that it is because they didn't listen. But, for all practical purposes, B will try and rationalize and find out another cause for their mishap. And that's that.
Would you walk under a ladder? Would you cut your nails at night? Would you cross the road immediately after a cat crossed your path? Would you break a coconut (which is a symbol of the womb)? I believe some blindly because I have been conditioned since childhood to do that, I believe some have logic (like not going under a ladder since it might fall on you) and some I don't believe at all.
I also believe that each country, culture, caste, community, race, religion etc has their own set of beliefs, rational or otherwise, which people may choose to follow or not. Fear of number 13, carrying a good luck charm, saying touchwood so that you are spared the evil eye- so many stories and legends behind superstitions and beliefs. So much debate and discussion. So much drama. I say, to each his own.
Be happy and at peace. Touch wood! ;)