New Delhi: From husbands joining their wives in fast, women breaking their fast through video chat to many single girls also observing the custom, women across north India Saturday did all they could to celebrate Karva Chauth with gusto.
It may have become more popular for the multi-million rupee business it has found in jewellery, clothes, gifts and fancy accessories, but women observed Karva Chauth as tradition demands it, albeit with a touch of modernism.
Apart from the intricate russet henna designs, women had everything new to share on the day that now has a tinge of commercialism to it.
"It`s the 10th year of my marriage, and me and my husband decided to celebrate by fasting together. This is how you stand together through thick and thin in marriage," 36-year old Devika Kathuria, a resident of Pashchim Vihar in west Delhi, told IANS.
Devika`s bank-employee husband has no qualms about joining his wife in observing the age-old custom as he feels "it`s not just the wife who needs to pray for husband`s long life".
"My mother was a bit perplexed to know our plans, but then I wanted to do something like this since the beginning of my marriage," confessed Romesh, Devika`s husband.
There was excitement in markets and malls as women made beelines to buy the goodies or to beauty parlours to spruce themselves up. Some just couldn`t curb their excitement in anticipation of the surprise gifts that awaited them after the moonrise puja.
Even the soaring prices of traditional red bangles and henna designs didn`t come in the way of festivities.
"Let`s not talk about prices anymore as you can`t compromise on this festival. Everybody wants to get their share of the pie in the rituals," said Kaninika Mehta, who was observing her second Karva Chauth.
The henna prices ranged from Rs.200 to Rs.1,000, while beauty parlours offered special packages.
The more experienced women were on hand to help the first-timers with the day-long festivities -- taking the traditional sargi (a sweet made of milk), semolina (suji) and sewaiyan before sunrise, and fasting through the day.
The puja preparations include traditional ritual items of the Gaura Mata idol, karva (pitcher containing water), cow dung cake, vermilion tika, the Bayana thali (plates) and gifts.
For Arnika Dua, her first Karva Chauth after marriage was slated to take place with a dash of technology as the 27-year-old was to break her fast through video chat with her husband.
"My husband is at Dubai for work. My mother-in-law insisted I don`t miss the first fast, so this was the best way I could think of carrying the festival with tradition," Dua told IANS.
She will participate with her mother-in-law and her clan in the evening puja where songs specific to the festival will be sung. Puja thalis are also passed around during such gatherings.
"I observed the fast when I was engaged too. At that time, my husband was around," says Dua, adding that she has "a fair idea about the rituals".
The women wait for the moon to rise before they break their fast by taking the first morsel from the hands of their husband.
Yhe day means different things for different women, but many feel if anything it creates a loving and caring environment apart from a sense of togetherness.
"Tradition might not be the prime priority these days. People from various religions, faiths, corporate world and even unmarried girls celebrate Karva Chauth, but the fact is that it leaves you with a lot of emotions of togetherness in the family," feels Shrishti Rastogi, 24.
All set to tie the knot in November, Rastogi says it is her "first Karva Chauth".
"And yes, I am told it is very different from how it is depicted in films. But now a bit of Bollywood is also rubbing into the rituals, twisting them to add the mush and glory," she says.