Close your eyes and think of Karva Chauth. What comes to mind? Perhaps a woman, dressed in a glittering red saree, holding a chhanni (sieve) in her hand, facing her husband.
Traditionally on this one-day festival, married women do not consume any food or water from sunrise to moonrise, to increase the longevity of their husbands' life. With changing times, many men have decided to reciprocate this expression of love, by partaking in the fasting ritual.
So this Karva Chauth 2021, without stealing much light from the patient and determined women, here's a small ode to men who observe the Karva Chauth fast for their better halves.
Married for the past 14 years, Gaurav Malhotra, 39, has been fasting on Karva Chauth for the past few years and is planning to do so this time as well. However, he avoids disclosing this to his friends, as they end up "laughing at the top of their voices." "They don't understand. They try to make fun of me, saying that it's not your job to fast. But I feel that there is an emotional quotient to it. When somebody is fasting for you, I think it should be reciprocated," Gaurav told ANI.
Since most people still follow the taboo that men aren't supposed to fast during Karva Chauth, Gaurav is content by keeping his choice private.
"I do not want to make a trend out of it. I do it for myself, I do it for my family. That's all that matters," he shared.
However, his wife Ruchi is in complete awe of his gesture and does not shy away from sharing it with the world.
"My wife loves to brag about it. I feel happy that I am the reason for the smile on her face, so why not," he added.
Akshit Lamba, 29, and his wife Tanu have been fasting for each other, even before they tied the knot.
"Our first experience was very special. We were dating back then. I remember I had given sargi to Tanu and we ate together early in the morning, seeing each other on a video call. It was beautiful," he shared.
Akshit fasts every year with his wife and has quite a logic for doing so.
"It makes no sense for me to have a long life without her...I wish we both have long, healthy and happy lives so that we can enjoy every bit of it together," he explained.
While challenging taboos is hard, Akshit was lucky to have supportive family and friends.
"My parents were just surprised that a big-time Punjabi foodie like me could ever stay hungry for so long, and while my friends appreciated my gesture, they warned me not to tell this to their wives else they too will have to go hungry," he quipped.
Shubhankar Kapoor, 27, is excited for his first Karva Chauth fast, for his fiancee Aakanksha.
He acknowledged that it definitely won't be easy, which makes him more determined to observe this fast, as a gesture "to ensure that she feels that she is not alone and I will always be there for her, come what may."Shubhankar is quite nervous since this would be the first time ever he would go without eating anything throughout the day and having no water to quench his thirst.
Yet, it is the act of battling hardships together that gives him the strength to do this.
"I am sure it will be super tough. But the thought that my fiancee will be doing the same for me gives me so much strength and confidence," he shared.
Shubhankar feels happy to be appreciated for his gesture, and while it may take a few years for his bachelors' friend circle to understand the value of these things, he is glad to have his fiancee and family supporting him.
"Aakanksha was very happy and proud of me for doing it. It is important to acknowledge the efforts one takes during such events. She even told her friends and family about it. My mother and sister, too, were also super stoked. My sister even told this to her husband and bragged about how caring and sensitive I was to my fiancee's gesture," he said.
Shubhankar also revealed that he'd love to break his fast with a plate of spicy, hot tandoori momos. "I'm already craving," he chuckled.
While food brings people together, it seems like fasting together brings couples even closer. Though these men know nothing of each other, something runs common in them, a desire to reciprocate, to let go of the male privilege and to strive for an equal relationship.
(With inputs from ANI)