I am writing these lines right now while I really feel sad and angry at the same time.
A few days ago, on 15th October, was Karva Chauth, a day of importance for Hindu women. Two years ago I wrote about the rituals of that day in my diary and I explained that women fast for the health of their husband the whole day long. This means that they don’t eat and don’t drink until the moon comes out in night, which happens at about nine or ten o’clock. Two years ago I wrote already that I don’t like this concept and don’t belief that there is anything good in that idea of fasting. The husband does not get any benefit if his wife is thirsty and hungry and there is of course no fasting day on which husbands stay hungry for their wives.
One day after Karva Chauth one of our employees called. His wife had been pregnant, in her 8th month and she had been fasting. She drank no drop of water nor did she eat even one bite of food the whole day long. In the evening, complications started and he brought her to hospital. There the doctors told that the child had died. Why? Because she fasted.
It makes you sad, angry, upset and feel only bad. You feel pity with this couple but at the same time you think how they could have done that to the baby? How come you follow such a tradition even if you are pregnant?
I know however how much pressure society can give, especially when religion and religious rituals are concerned. There are always people in the surrounding of a woman who urge her to do fasting and believe it is a good thing. Even if a woman is pregnant and has the feeling that she would rather not like to keep the fast, she has pressure from her surrounding to do it. What could be going on in this woman’s heart and mind? If she tells others about her concerns, that it may harm her baby, other women say ‘Oh, but I have done that, too, it doesn’t do any harm at all!’ If she decides not to do a fast, people will think she is weak and cannot even stay hungry for one day. Or they believe she doesn’t love her husband. Or, if something happens to him, she will get the blame for it. If he has an accident in future, people will point the fingers on her and say it happened because she did not keep the fast.
So a woman stops eating for a day, even though she knows that she has another life to feed in her belly. She doesn’t eat nor drink because of the pressure of tradition and society. And the child, an unborn life, dies.
Now people in this woman’s surrounding may say that she should not have done that but what did they do before it happened? Who was there to tell her that this is a stupid and useless tradition? See what big prize this couple has paid for learning this lesson! She is still in hospital and the doctors are considering doing an operation to remove the body of their dead child. He was crying here and I feel sad for him while I have all those emotions about this stupid tradition.
I am obviously very emotional about this topic as my wife is pregnant, too. She also told me how urgently the body calls for water or food when she did not drink or eat even for a few hours. It is unimaginable for me or her how you can ignore this call of the body for food, nutrition and water.
Even if you are not pregnant, it is never right to do this kind of fast. When you are hungry, you should eat, when you are thirsty, you should drink! Eat healthy food and take care of what you give to your body but nourish it properly! And if you have another life inside you, you have to take care of it!
Unfortunately this Karva Chauth has become even more popular these days! Instead of reducing it due to the lack of sense, media has promoted the rituals connected with it. In my childhood there were never any programs about this day and this year you could switch around the TV channels and everywhere you could hear about Karva Chauth celebrations and rituals! It is simply wrong of media to promote a religious tradition that can harm someone so badly! They do it because they simply need something to talk about or write about. This is why such a harmful tradition is glamourized!
Last year I had a big talk with my mother about this, who had been doing this fast her whole life long. I told her that she was getting older and that she needed to think of her health and body because we wanted her around some longer. She understood and accepted my point of view which made us all happy. Now she will not do fasting on that day anymore. I am very proud of my parents for making decisions against old-fashioned and outdated traditions. They are able to stop rituals that they had been doing their whole lives long and I am very happy about this.