Today is Karva Chauth and it has hit the city with a bang. The famed festival-cum-social soiree of North India, mainly propagated by the film folk, is now finding a prime place in the hearts of south Indians.
In the heart of Jayanagar, Lalwani Events that runs Neelam Mehandi in 4th Block, has been booked for 150 mehndi appointments by married women of which 25 are south Indians. Today, women will dress like brides, hence the henna.
Mala, married for 14-years, is readying to celebrate her first Karva Chauth. “I am inspired by my north Indian friends,” says the 34-year-old Teluguite who can speak only a smattering of Hindi. She’s accompanied by her equally excited mother-in-law to Neelam’s for her appointment. Mala’s husband doesn’t find it strange that his perfectly southern wife is preparing for rituals rather alien. “He loves it,” says Mala dispelling the idea that the adventure is her’s alone.
Mala will be fasting, not even drinking water, all day today, starting off with a pre-dawn meal at 4 am called sargi. This is offered to the daughter-in-law by her mother-in-law. Mala can break her fast only once she sights the moon through a sieve and then gazes upon her husband. For Hindi film enthusiasts, thanks to a certain Yash Chopra brand of family dramas, these are all too common ‘romantic’ scenes on-screen. These may have influenced wives in the South, but Neelam Lalwani, who has only seen a growing number of locals book with her for Karva Chauth mehndi says it’s got a lot more to do with cultures coming closer via mixed community marriages and the flat system of housing. “In flats, people join celebrations of a variety of festivals that may not even be their own,” she says.
Sangeeta Mehra, who’s married to a banker has to often tweak her Karva Chauth observances to suit local details of the city her husband is posted in. In Bangalore, she skips the bridal finery and elaborate rituals where neighbourhood women join in. “I fast, dress up, paint my nails and then eat a simple meal at moonrise,” says Sangeeta, an English language trainer. A year or two more in the city and if Lalwani is right, Mehra may no longer be alone on Karva Chauth.