The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fasting for hubby is fun, filmi style

Kajol in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Sushmita Sen in Biwi No 1, and then the battery of saas-bahus — the screen goddesses, big and small, have garnished Karva Chauth with glamour. And today, the once traditional custom amongst married women in the northern and western parts of the country has emerged from behind closed doors and hit the stage — it is not just an occasion to pray, but also a time to party. Karva Chauth, in this auspicious month of Kartik, is hip and happening.

“We will observe a daylong fast for the prosperity and long life of our husbands on Monday. But why not have a great time before that'” asks Alka Poddar, of Calcutta Park Street Ladies Circle No 46. The organisation has planned a three-hour bash, Shagun, on Friday at Saturday Club. Other organisations, like Punjabee Bradree and Maheshwari Sammelan, are also planning similar events before the Chaturthi on October 13.

“It’s an age-old custom, where women pray for the safety and security of their husbands. They observe a daylong fast, pray to Ganesha and offer arghya to the moon and seek the blessings of their husbands before ending their upvas,” explains pandit Nagarmal Dadhich. “In Mahabharata, Lord Krishna advised Draupadi to observe Karva Chauth to ensure Arjuna’s victory,” he adds.

The occasion has travelled far since then, in content and style. The aangan and the sieve are now backed by high-profile venues and fun ‘n’ games, corporate sponsors and event managers. On Friday, bindis and mehendi sessions will form the core, but in true filmi style, the Karva Chauth package will also include song-and-dance, a fashion parade, game shows and a lavish spread from Munna Maharaj’s kitchen.

Entry to the party comes at a price of Rs 250, but the organisers are happy that a “cosmopolitan crowd of around 300” has already signed up. “The money raised will be used to build a school,” says Poddar. Some community associations organise programmes before Karva Chauth — the Sargi — along more traditional lines. But with filmi heroines, from Miss World to Miss Universe,and the saas-bahu serials — the Ektaa Kapoor-steered ‘K’ series — tradition is not enough. “Inspired by films and serials, we have included saas-bahu games and are encouraging women to come with their mothers-in-law, ” smiles Poddar. Karva Chauth, clearly, is ‘cool’.

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