This past Sunday was a festival called “Teej“, where the woman fasts for an entire day for the sake of her husband’s health and wealth. It might seem very romantic on the surface, but we quickly justified, “but my husband never fasts for me.” Moreover, Sunday feast was too tempting to give up over a religious and cultural belief!
3 generations of women sat around discussing Teej, sipping on rounds of chai and fatty homemade snacks. My aunt stirred the gossip pot and declared, “Well most of our husbands are nothing to gloat about; I don’t understand the point of this fast! Why you women put yourself through the torture is beyond me!” I nodded my head in approval, but before I could open my mouth, the responses came flying.
My neighbor, now 50, was abandoned by her husband 20 years ago along with 4 daughters, said, “Well you know, we Hindus believe in the theories of Karma and Reincarnation. I am fasting so I can have better luck with a brand new husband in my next lifetime!” As we all laughed about this revelation, I didn’t expect the next argument. My cousin interjected, “I thought the fast was so that you get the same husband in the next 7 lifetimes. But I asked God for a new man every life time, a change is must in life!” To this, another neighbor propounded her theory “Uff ladies! I love fasting because that’s one day when I buy all the wonderful sweets made of milk, nuts and raisins and treat myself to the goodies – and that too with my hubby’s money! After all the fast is for his good health”.
Lastly our lovely grand-ma (through indirect family connections) dished out a stern warning, “You girls keep laughing shamelessly! You have the choice of roaming freely on the streets, wear fancy outfits and apply makeup. Our times were not like this. Festivals like Teej gave us a chance to dress up, put on makeup, and get out of the 4 walls of our houses without worrying about being judged. Don’t ever take Teej away from women!”
Well there you have it. We stand corrected – fasting in India can be a very empowering for women. So build that circle of women friends and keep them close – they really help you see the other side of things. We certainly feel blessed to sit in a circle and gossip about sweet nothings on a warm Sunday afternoon!