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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Karwa Chauth

Completely missed this one! It was yesterday.

In my defense, I am not married, so it is not very meaningful to me.

This is the married women's fast. For the day the wife does not eat (and in some cases does not drink either) for the entire day. In the evening she gets dressed up in fine clothes, sometimes her wedding clothes, and waits to see the moon. Once she sees the moon, either reflected in a pool of water, through a sieve, or through her shawl, then she can eat.

This fast is for the well fare of her husband, although I could have done it as part of preparing for and asking the Gods for a husband.

The day is, I am told, somewhat like the North Indian Valentine's Day. You can see it taking place in some Bollywood movies, for example it happens in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

More information here:

This is yet another opportunity for me to be frustrated by the distance between myself and others who practice my religion. Granted, I let it slip and didn't notice what day it was. I found out because my Hindi teacher told me. She said, "I'm tired because today is Karwa Chauth."
"Oh I see," I said, "You must be feeling weak."
She continued as though she had not heard me, "You see, Hindu women fast on this day..." And she continued on giving me a long explanation of something that I already know while I smiled and nodded politely.

I've told her before that I'm a Hindu. It frustrates me that even when I say that, it is assumed that I don't know anything about it. I am educated and given explanations for things I already know all the time. I don't want to be obnoxious, though, so I don't say, "Yes, I know. I'm a Hindu, I do that too."

Naturally, when the Indian girl arrived in class she was told what day it was and not given the explanation, even though she is Christian and her family has been Christian for many generations. (Not that she didn't know what it was, of course she did, but I do also!) Argh.


  1. The joys of being a western Hindu :D

  2. And a south Indian Hindu! I didn't know about this festival even though I had seen it on Hindi Movies.I was enlightened by my neighbour who is a native of Uttar Pradesh,about 10 years back.We have a similar one based on the sun's movement around March fifteenth[depending on when the last month of the Tamil Calendar starts]. Chauth is short&Hindi for Chaturthi. My almanack does not mention any other significance for the day.Surprising! But the whole month is considered holy/special for worshipping Cauvery.We had people[relatives and friends] come to our ancestral house which was located close to the banks of the Cauvery,for the Thula masa snanam[bathing] in the Cauvery.

  3. This is not a universal hindu tradition and nowhere comparable to the likes of diwali, rama navami or krishna jayanti, dassara, shiv rathri etc, which are universal festivals of all hindus.
    Lot of hindu women including those in my family dont undertake this special fast.
    I felt sorry that people lecture you on hinduism.You (other western hindus) will have to put up with some or most browns (like myself) lecturing on hinduism. I can understand how irritating it should be.Surya

  4. The lecture thing is not bad per se, it just depresses me to realize that there will ALWAYS, for the rest of my life, be a distance between me and other people.

    There will be a distance between me and other people who look like me because my religion is different and there will be a distance between me and others who share my religion because they will always know that I am not fully one of them. Shrug. That's just how it is!

  5. Amba all of us donot think like that.I am surprised at the teacher.She stays in USA and she knows you are a hindu ,still she behaves like that. Living in USA has not made her more aware and broadminded.Anyway Karwa Chuath is not a religious thing but more of a culture thing and I also didnot fast.Infact I never fast.

  6. Thanks, Ela. I know it isn't everyone, but, well, sometimes it feels like it! My cousin introduced me to the idea of Karwa Chauth. I really like it. I hope someday to observe it when I'm married.

  7. Amba do you know karva chauth is observed by unmarried girls also to get good husbands. Infact unmarried girls fast for 16 mondays and pray to lord Shiv to get them good husbands.

  8. Well Amba as you know I am from UP and we do not observe Karva chauth but our festival is Teej. karva chauth is obseved by punjabis. It ahs been made to look glamourous by TV soaps and movies. So now ppl know more about it as actors from tv soaps and movies are shown doing it often.

  9. I know, if I had been on top of things I would have been praying for a good husband! :)

  10. Another post of mine would interest you