Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Karva Chauth: Regression vs Choice

It is finally that time of the year when social media goes into a tizzy as women often accuse each other of being shrill ‘feminists’ or declare themselves as slaves to patriarchy. Today is Karva Chauth, a festival where married women observe a fast for a day to pray for the long life of their husbands. While routine one day fasts must not create so much of a problem, it is rare for anyone to come across chatter on social media and websites which seek to promote ‘independent’ opinions on how Karva Chauth is ‘patriarchal and repressive’.


Observing the fast or not, must remain an individual choice. The relationship she shares with her husband will dictate her choice to abide by tradition or break free from it. With much chatter being generated online on the patriarchal and repressive aspect of the festival, it does not take much time to realise the anguish that some women go through for choosing to observe the fast. We are subjected to discourses on free speech, independent choices and thoughts across media and yet we choose to deride a woman for choosing to observe a fast which seeks to seek longevity of a husband. The relationship a woman and a man share and her free choice will decide whether a woman chooses to observe a fast. What gives us the right to decide for her?

If my quest for vengeance drives me to a point where I choose to attack someone for damaging the lungs by smoking, would I not be labelled as weird? But then, hey, didn’t Deepika Padukone tell us that it was all about my life and my choices? By applying the same standard, why should Karva Chauth be any different?  It is not mandatory for everyone to agree with everything but at the same time, deriding someone for a personal choice does not mean you are superior. It only positions you as a person with hollow beliefs. Sarcastic tweets do not even count as activism for women’s rights. Nobody, I repeat, nobody is under an obligation to bear the weight of the human race and to believe that it is a personal goal to solve all problems faced by the human race.

Social media has become the new battleground for male bashing. Every other day, men are shamed for not knowing enough about periods and the menstrual cycle or not sympathizing with their wives. Yes, the lack of knowledge and the gender disparity makes them the perfect victims on social media. Yet, if you choose to highlight on how he supports patriarchal and regressive upbringing patterns, it makes you the smaller person. Karva Chauth, eventually, is just a one day event and for me, the ability to exercise free will to observe a fast will not necessarily make me ‘liberal’ as we know it in India’s context but then, it is a conscious decision to look beyond the chatter and move towards becoming a liberal in the true sense of the word.  

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