She closes her eyes and prays for his long life, when she opens them she glances in the direction of the moon from that small circular ring with criss-cross wires ’chaarna’ is what we call it. Slowly lowering it to his face she sees his face from that same circular ring. One should have seen her smile, the light in her eyes however dark the night maybe it cannot falter those assets of her. She keeps the circular ring down and continues with the ritual as she applies kumkum’s tika on his forehead and then she has a diya on a plate that she rotates in front of him in a circular motion to make it simple it is called ‘Aarti’. Normal words they seem, normal it is to see, when she bows down to touch his feet and then he breaks her fast by making her drink her first sip of water after sunrise, followed by a small piece of sweet. Karwachauth vrat that a woman keeps to ensure that her husband lives a long life and prospers, heard about it, have seen it in daily soaps and some movies (they sometimes exaggerate it though!) is what we usually know about it.
If you read about it on the internet there are many stories. One says that this vrat was a celebration for when the bride comes to her in-laws place and befriends a woman she can confide in the times of need. God-sister as they put it, it is a new relation she develops because she will be far away from her family and there were no mediums to communicate then, so she can have her god-sister in all the good and bad times as her support, guide and counselor. So the vrat was to celebrate their friendship and thank her husband for the beautiful relationship he gave her and to pray for his long life as gratitude. The other story says there was a princess named veeravati, only sister to seven brothers, she was married off to a king. When she came home on account of the vrat she could not take the rituals and the traditional patterns, she was a pampered child and got everything she wished for, then staying hungry and thirsty for so long got to her. Her brothers could not see her in that condition so they tricked her as they placed a mirror and reflected light so the veeravati thought it was moonlight and broke her fast. They then received the news of veeravati’s husband ‘the king’ being ill. She then rushed to the palace. When she prayed for his life Parvati Mata told her that it was the result of her breaking the fast before the moon was up and now if she follows the tradition like it is supposed to, the king will be fine. But these are all stories .you never know, people interpret things differently. Earlier the stories were a word of mouth, there was no written proof. So passing through the generations information has been filtered, twisted, misinterpreted and what not. It is difficult to trace down the route of a particular tradition to an exact time and place. The customs and rituals in India are given a lot of importance, since it is a country with the cultural heritage; there are many religious sentiments, values and beliefs attached to a tradition. What we see today maybe the modern version of the vrat, but something that hasn’t change is a wife’s devotion to her husband. She is the same woman of today who will go to office the next morning, who struggles her way through the day juggling different things together. But right now she is just a wife who needs to thank her husband for the happiness he brought into her life. She maybe his equal in all aspects of life but she is after all a Bharatiya Nari who is taught to respect her husband and love him unconditionally.
The folk songs are playing in the background as she along with the other women of the colony sit to have meal. They laugh, tell stories and have a gala time there. Among all the people she searches for a single pair of warm brown eyes that never failed to give her comfort and the answer she always needed. And now she needed to know if he had his meal since he had been fasting too, for her off course! She smiles a little at that. There she finds him sitting and chatting with her mother, as if sensing someone is staring at him he looks around to meet her eyes. He just nods and smiles. How little actions communicate everything and no words are required at all. How love defines every celebration and enriches the experience of the festivals. However modern she becomes or to put it this way” how much ever she westernizes”, she will never let go of her roots, Because it takes more than a perfectly plucked eyebrows and manicured nails to be a woman. She is the pillar to her family, partner to her husband and a teacher to her child. she is a modern woman with traditional values.