Saturday, October 15, 2011

Karva Chauth - My First Experience After Marriage

This year isn't the first time I've celebrated Karva Chauth. I completed it 2 years ago for the first time, then I was only a girlfriend. Last year as a fiance I also completed the fast but didn't blog about it. Both years I was at work or sleeping a good part of the day which made the fast easy. Instead of going to the break room I chatted with friends at their desks. Neither year was as difficult as I had heard this fast was...of course I was in the US where everything is so much easier than it is in India.

This year I had been uncertain as to whether or not I was going to take this fast or not. Between culture shock and sickness I wasn't sure if it was a wise choice to skip eating for a whole day. I've borderlined on starvation more than a few times since I've been here because there is limited access to food in the house and physically I wasn't capable of standing over the gas stove. I almost passed out several times trying to cook food because my body has gotten so weak and the heat and fumes were so intense.

I've also had this rotten cold for almost 2 weeks now and have been doing a lot of coughing this week. My body has ached and I've been so tired and worn out. It wasn't looking good for this fast. however, hubby's friend and FIL's friends and the neighbors have all been inquisitive as to whether or not I would take the fast. I did feel a little cornered to participate to save face - mostly for myself because family doesn't seem to care one way or the other. Except MIL who I could tell was getting really excited for her first time celebrating with a daughter in law.

So in the end I decided to attempt the fast. I don't for one minute buy into the superstition that if I break my fast that hubby will die or have a bad life. This whole thing is symbolic and superstition is at best bullsh*t. Still, I thought the bonding experience could be nice and this whole experience could be enlightening and those are the kinds of experiences I love to have. I also checked and the moon was set to rise before 8 pm so I figured this wouldn't be so bad as that's when we normally eat anyway.

So, starting a couple days before I made sure my body was physically ready. I over hydrated to make sure my body doesn't run out of water during the fast. I ate 'like a Punjabi' for a change. Lol, normally I eat small portions or light meals but Punjabis eat these huge thali's full of food or these heavy foods. So I ate pretty heavy for the last few days and ate much larger portions. I was amazed I could even do it. I had extra nuts, grains and protein so my body won't feel deprived.

Yesterday they called a girl to come do my mehendi. She wasn't any good and the design ws not great but that doesn't really bother me much. However, MIL put on that awful lemon/sugar glue to keep on longer and she put on too much. I had lemon juice running all over me making trails and no way to wash it off. By the time the water came and I was able to get it off. It left me with an itchy red rash on the tops of my feet and the upper part of the design on my arm. After a few hours that went away thankfully. I have really sensitive skin. 

After a big dinner at our favorite restaurant, I stayed up till 1 AM eating and drinking water and set my alarm for 5 AM. I woke up on my own at 4:47 though and then went downstairs to cook (something I was not enthusiastic about lol). I made a huge sandwich and drank 1/2 liter of water. My MIL gave me some sweet stuff with milk which I only ate a little of because I do still have a cough and sore throat and milk is really bad for that. I wasn't at all hungry and so eating all that was no easy task. I then went back to bed and tossed and turned until 12:30. I felt awful trying to sleep on such a full stomach and it just gave me a headache. I layed around watching TV and being genuinely lazy all day just as I was instructed - I can't argue with good advice after all. ;)

At 5 PM the ladies in the house all went to the neighbors house to hear the Karva Chauth story and we participated in the puja rituals. This entailed all the elder women passing around their thali in a circle several times. Each time their own thali got back around to them they picked it up, touched it to a glass of water and then to their heads and then went on with the next circle. The thali's each had a lit diva and a few times there were some near fires caused. After the puja the cup of water was poured onto a tree, a little at a time as we circled it 5 times each. The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes.

What's funny is MIL was an instant celebrity today and I could tell she was enjoying it. The first 20 minutes we were at the neighbors house a conversation ensued about what it was like having an Angrezi bahu (English daughter in law) and what I ate and how we communicated and how I lived, etc. They all got the chance to see first hand how MIL and I understand each other without speaking the same language. They were excited and impressed. I could tell MIL enjoyed the attention and she deserves it. My MIL is a good woman.

Luckily the moon was only a few minutes late making it's debut. That was due to the dirt/smoke in the sky. It was thick tonight. We looked at the red moon through a splatter cover for a pan and threw rice and water at it and said "I am a married woman and I offer this water." I made sure to splash a little on hubby in the process, on purpose of course! Then I looked at him through the splatter cover and it made me think of more food.

Afterwards hubby cooked me authentic Mexican fajitas! I helped him shop for all the ingredients yesterday and I've been craving these for weeks but there are no good Mexican restaurants here. I helped him cook them as he's never done anything like this before but the taste was so fresh but we didn't season them enough. Some of the seasonings just weren't available here but I was happy. We finished them off while watching Transformers 3 in HD (my first true HD movie). I won't ever say HD isn't that big of a deal again lol!

FIL got me sodas and chocolates. I didn't get thirsty or hungry throughout the whole day until I started cooking then I was starving lol. I had felt fine all day but when I ate the tiredness hit me and I felt very weak. So, now I'm back to replenishing my water so I don't get dehydrated. Not a bad experience at all. I had intended to post pics and a video but my camera isn't working...that blog post will show up in a few days because I know why it's not working and I have to say my peace lol.

How was your Karva Chauth?


  1. Oops! Thank you for catching that. I knew that so I'm not sure how I messed it up typing it. Lol.

  2. what it was like having an Angrezi "bahu" instead of sass (English daughter in law). Saas means mother in law.  

  3. Oh, and I finally have Chalo Dilli with subtitles! Just waiting to watch it when I can sit and watch it all.

  4. Thank you. I'm glad I haven't experienced too much of the aggression here. I see some of it from time to time but rarely ever experience it directly. It pays to smile lol.

  5. Actually not only punjab but Rajasthan and Haryana have the same history. They all had to face a lot of invasions and some of those cultures mongols, huns etc. stayed back with some soldiers marrying locally and assimilated with the local community.

    This is the reason behind the aggression shown in these states of india. The more you go towards South the aggression starts tapering off. While the rest of india (south and east) was advancing culturally and socially, the north-west was fighting wars with the invaders hence the difference in outlook towards life in general.

  6. Fascinating! That is something I hadn't thought of before and I don't know that much of Punjabi history but this comment from you helps me make sense of a lot of things. I definitely appreciate it.

  7. The punjabi community is more patriarchal than many other communities in india. There is reason for that: If you look at punjab's geography, it stands as a gate or a wall to rest of india.

    The punjabi's have been fighting wars since forever. They've faced almost every invader from alexander to the mughuls to the british. When punjabi's felt that hinduism wasn't tough enough to resist islamic invaders, they took hinduism and militarized it; for sikhism is nothing but a military wing of hinduism. It is this "need" to always be "war ready" is the sole reason for the preference of males; it's the males who fight wars. Pre-independence india was nothing but a collection of hundreds of different kingdoms or monarchs where male linage was all that mattered.

    Many of india's current traditions originate from it's past monarchy societies and it's attempts to resist invaders militarily. Though they do not represent the current india(invading rate has decreased drastically) but they have become traditional rituals. Todays indians preference for males is nothing but an unconscious want to arrange security.