Like much of popular Indian cultural rituals, the current buzz around the festival of Karva Chauth – that one day when married women fast for the well-being of their husbands – owes a lot to Bollywood films, especially Yash Raj and Karan Johar. Grand family dramas where the mother sends over the sergi (the ritualistic healthy drink and food that a woman has to consume consume before the sun rises) to her daughter, or more popularly, the mother-in-law making the sergi and handing it to the girl, symbolically standing in for the mother makes for extremely emotional viewing.
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Thanks to the Kajols and Jaya Bachchans and Hema Malinis of Bollywood, the festival of Karva Chauth has grown far beyond just the certain section of Hindu communities for whom this has been a tradition. The melting pot urban culture has now resulted in the festivities going above and beyond just a handful of communities to becoming a lot more like a fad. Many married women keep the fast to join in with their friends and family, turning the occasion into a lovely bonding event.
These days, keeping in tandem with their wives and arguing against only women needing to fast, husbands have started keeping a fast along with their counterparts. Thus, the couple together end their fast at moon rise.
But observing Karva Chauth does come with its challenges. If you’re someone who isn’t used to fasting – that too without drinking water – it’s not an easy task. There is a lot of will power and mind-over-stomach strategy involved. If you’re pregnant, then you need to take special care so as to not fall ill or adversely impact the child.
Rhituparna Mitra, head – Content Strategy and Promotion, Babychakra.com, an online platform that connects parents to services and products to ease parenting, has shared tips:
* Before deciding whether or not to keep the fast, speak to your gynaecologist, as it may lead to hypertension and gestational diabetes. If you are in your first and third trimesters, it may be a little more difficult for you, but you can consider keeping a fast if you are in the second trimester.
In case you are keeping the fast, here’s what you can do:
* A complete no-food, no-water fast is typically not recommended during pregnancy.
* You could start your day with sergi, and a big glass of milk so that you are not left hungry after the night’s break.
* Your body needs continuous energy so eat fruits and fruit juices every 2 hours. Hydration is important, so consider coconut water.
* Pregnancy increases your normal eating urges. Since you would have been eating something or the other the entire day during your pregnancy, a diet consisting of just milk and fruits will seem like a fast to your body. If you experience acidity or fatigue at the end of the day, don’t worry, it will get better as you resume your normal diet.
* Avoid high-calorie, fat-rich foods with excess sugar and salt to break your fast to keep problems such as gestational diabetes at bay.
Now, that you have your hunger pangs under control, a fun part of the rituals during Karva Chauth involves decking up in almost-bridal wear. The concept of ‘solah sringar’ or ’16 ways of beautifying yourself’ is often practised. These 16 marks are said to symbols of a married woman, enhancing her beauty. These 16 signs apparently are:
1. Maang Tika: An ornament worn on the forehead.
2. Sindoor: The vermillion is one of the most popular and accepted symbolism for married women.
3. Bindi: Also seen as a mark of a married woman, it’s worn between the eyebrows. Though, now, many women wear a bindi irrespective of marital status.
4. Kajal/Kohl: Applied on the eyes to enhance the look.
5. Earrings: Usually gold ones are preferred as a mark of marriage and prosperity.
6. Nose ring: Also a custom in many communities that symbolises that the wearer is married.
7. Bangles: Usually gold and glass, women usually wear green or red coloured ones, which are seen as bridal colours.
8. Rings: Also a symbol of prosperity, on this day women accompany their wedding/engagement ring with many others.
9. Mehndi: A huge part of Karva Chauth celebrations is applying the mehndi. Mar women prefer to get their husband’s name tattooed as well.
10. Armlet: Popularly called bajuband, this ornament is usually worn by women only on sepcial occasions such as this.
11. Waistband: Also called kumarband, the waist band has now become a popular fashion statement as well.
12. Gajra: Women wear a special floral garland in their hair.
13. Payal: Much like the armlet and waistband, the payal is worn around the ankles, and is usually made of silver.
14. Necklace: Though it’s common for married women to wear something around the neck, today women prefer to sport those special sets that are usually locked away.
15. Toe rings: The bichhiya is also traditionally a mark of married women.
16. Ittar: Perfume or ittar is specially worn today (and preferably every other day too) so the bride stays fresh all day.
Now, that you have your basics on Solah Sringar pat down, part of keeping your mind off food is to take that precious time out and pamper yourself. If everyday is a rush to get things today, today is the day when women can officially take out spa time! So make good use of it. From the right kind of massage to making masks at home, here are seven expert tips to get glowing skin for Karva Chauth.
And for that flawless look for the evening festivities, we have seven more tips from Aashmeen Munjaal, owner of the capital-based Star Salon n’ Spa. Read them here.