Smt Lal Devi, my grandma with my parents at the eternal symbol of love The Taj Mahal, Agra in the 50s
Karwa Chauth is a ritualistic fast in India which the wife keeps for the long life of her husband. She is expected to get up much before sunrise, eat and drink and then fast without food or water till the moonrise. Most Hindu families follow this tradition and the mother-in -law is the pivotal figure here, orchestrising the entire ritual; it being a matter of her beloved son’s long life!
My mother, though herself from a Jat Sikh family, fell in love and married a Hindu. She was very weak in health when she got married. First Karwa Chauth day arrived! Dadi maa, my paternal grandma, though an illiterate woman brought up in an atmosphere of tradition and rituals decided to behave in avcompketely unorthodox way! Knowing my mom’s passion for tea, Dadi maa lied to her that it was allowed to have fruit and tea! My mother was unaware if the nuances of the fast and did not know that it was an entire day fast without food and water! It was only later that she came to know from her sister in law about it! My Grandma had shown amazing kindness to my mom and guts to go against tradition and religious belief!
The second Karwa Chauth my grand ma did not allow my mother to keep the fast but asked my father to keep it for himself! Being a sober husband and a gentleman, he agreed. Since it is almost a 16 hour fast, there is the ritual of Sargi which allows the fasting person to have proper food and water early in the morning before the sunrise. The day my Papa fasted, he did not wake up early to have his meal and hence his fast turned out to be much longer as dinner the previous day was his last meal! Came the third fast and my grandma told both my parents not to keep it! My mom left for heavenly abode in 2014, after a long battle with cancer last year and my father, an old man with sharp memory, still smiles at this memory every year on the fast day. “I didn’t keep the fast for myself, but for her”, he says. When asked why didn’t wake up early to have his meal, he simply says “I forgot!”