Technology and Karwa Chauth!

I’m sure the title of this post has some readers asking, “What is Karwa Chauth?” and the rest asking, “What does technology have to do with Karwa Chauth?”

If you do not know what it is, and you want to know, please read this excellent Wikipedia page on Karwa Chauth. Now, you’ll still ask, “What does technology have to do with Karwa Chauth?”

What follows is NOT fiction. It actually happened on October 22, 2013 in the presence of a close friend.

A few women, who lived in the same apartment complex, had got together for a joint celebration of the evening ceremonies of Karwa Chauth. They were concerned that the moon was not visible even 45 minutes after the scheduled moon rise. They had all been fasting from dawn that day and, as per laid down procedure, each woman was supposed to break her fast after viewing (through a sieve) the moon’s reflection in a vessel filled with water, offering water to the moon to secure its blessings, and then viewing her husband’s face (through a sieve). Since it was very cloudy, they were afraid that they would not be able to view the moon that night. Now what???

One of the women decided to seek the advice of a slightly older friend who lived in another part of the same city because this friend was much more knowledgeable about rituals and would be able to suggest a suitable course of action.

The senior friend said that she had faced the same problem that day. She had resolved it by asking her sister who lives in another city to photograph the moon that evening and send her the photograph on WhatsApp. She had viewed (through a sieve) the moon’s photograph’s reflection in a vessel filled with water, etc., etc..

The women and their families were relieved! Then, one of the women came up with a better idea. She asked her brother who lives in another city to send her a live video recording of the moon on Skype, which she received on her iPad. They all went up to the terrace. Her son held the iPad in the same direction and angle as the moon would have been that day. She viewed (through a sieve) the reflection of the moon’s live video recording in a vessel filled with water, etc., etc.. All the other women followed the same procedure.

Technology had saved the day!

If this had been a piece of fiction, it would have been humorous. But since it’s not fiction, I would say it’s pathetic, maybe scary, even more so because the women involved are all well-qualified (some are graduates, some are post-graduates, some are MBAs). Most of them are stay-at-home (by choice) mothers, some of whom had worked before becoming mothers. The husbands are engineers or engineer-MBAs working in senior positions in the corporate world. All these people have the popularly perceived external signs of being ‘modern’. They speak English fluently, they drive big cars, use the latest gadgets, they wear western clothes, their children study in ‘posh’ schools.

I do not care for festivals like Karwa Chauth, but that is my personal opinion. Just as I am entitled to my own opinion, I respect the right of others to their own opinions. If people want to celebrate such festivals, that’s their own choice. But why do they have to make asses of themselves? For example, in the case of Karwa Chauth, the person is supposed to fast from dawn to dusk. The part about viewing the moon’s reflection through a sieve, etc. is probably just symbolic. Even if there is a scientific basis to viewing the moon’s reflection through a sieve, is viewing the photograph’s reflection or the video’s reflection the same as viewing the reflection of the moon itself?

I must clarify that I am not attempting to point a finger at the women involved. Irrespective of who came up with the bright idea, all the men and women were active and enthusiastic participants in this charade and are equally responsible for what happened.

If this is how qualified (I hope I don’t need to explain why I’m not using the word ‘educated’) and ‘modern’ people conduct themselves, what can we expect from people who are neither qualified nor ‘modern’?

Do you agree with me, or do you think I’m overreacting?

13 thoughts on “Technology and Karwa Chauth!

  1. While your frustration is somewhat justified given that you really don’t care about the festival itself, my personal opinion is that you probably are over reacting a little bit. Given that there are bigger issues in the world to worry about, how some women see the moon on Karwa Chauth day should probably not be something that you need to be worried about.

    I read this post more as humorous post and left it at that 😀

    • Blind superstition is a matter of great concern in our country.

      Unfortunately, there are too many vested interests which want people to suspend their thinking process.

      Even more unfortunately, many religious persons view attacks on blind superstition as attacks on their religion. This is not so.

  2. Pro, there has been a spate of karva chauth bashing in the last few days, and of course, people defending it. Then there’s the third segment that romanticizes it.

    I don’t think you’re overreacting. Heck, I could have written this post. I don’t care for “rituals” like these. I come from an orthodox Tamil Iyer family. Heaven knows we have a ritual for everything. Festivals were more of a fun thing than holier than thou occasions. And my Mom, who is the most progressive thinker I know, insisted we do not indulge in any of those 13-day thingies when she passed away. We respected her wishes, donated her body to the Medical College just as she wanted and set up trust funds and endowments for welfare homes. So much more peace that way.

    karwa chauth leaves a very kadwa taste in my mouth. We have better ways to show our love, pray for our families and be happy. 😀

    • Vidya, your Mom was obviously an extremely incredible person.
      On rituals and ceremonies, it’s unfortunate that people are more bothered about the procedural details, less about the sentiment behind the ritual/ceremony.

  3. My family does not have this tradition. When we were residing abroad, we had lot of friends who followed this tradition. There used to be calls to my wife to ask if moon is visible from our place (those days no mobile phones or MMS etc were there). I always used to tell my wife to say YES, much to her discomfort. That used to be really funny.
    I also had discussions with my Muslim friends during Ramadan when it came during summers in Europe.
    I heard incidents about orthodox Jews who equipped their houses with automatic lighting of homes and ovens to prepare food on days when they were not supposed to light anything.
    Ignorance is bliss. Cheating oneself is more blissful, it looks like 🙂

    • Jay, I’m not too comfortable about saying YES all the time.

      About summers in Europe, I suppose you mean the very large time gap between sunrise and sunset. Is that correct?

      It’s unfortunate that people follow traditions in letter, but violate them in spirit. In my opinion, if you don’t agree with the spirit of a tradition, it’s better not to follow it at all.

  4. Ingrained superstition will always overcome common sense. But on the lighter side you have to give credit to the ladies for the positive use of modern technology.

  5. I am a designer & always like to see life around. Secondly being Bong, fond of enjoying festivals. I find it very thrilling when group of ladies come to gether for Karwa chouth & respect this tradition. But being Indian we have tendency to short cut & fool ourselves. This is not only applicable to them, but we too cheat ourselves. I have been working with Indian industry for 3 decades, but yet to find an engineer who is worth. When I see my colleagues, qualified designers, engineers come out with frivolous ideas, it really makes my blood boil.

    • Kamlesh, thank you for bringing out this point. I fully share your anguish about ‘Short cut’ culture and engineering graduates (who may not be worth calling engineers) coming out with frivolous ideas.
      In fact, I personally think the ‘Short cut’ culture is one of the most important roots of most of our nation’s problems.

  6. I don’t believe in any rituals (birth, death, marriage and festivals) followed by us. And if at all I become a part of any ritual, I use it to meet with family and friends, observe (with amusement or boredom or disgust) the rituals in a detached way. And enjoy the great feasts which usually follows these rituals.

    Just for your info, I was told that when the mullahs in Pakistan had problems sighting the moon (due to cloud cover) before declaring Eid, they were sent up in a helicopter above the cloud cover, so that they can sight the moon and declare Eid. This is also an example of use of 20th century technology to follow traditions.

    • Often, if youngsters ask questions about rituals and traditions due to genuine curiosity, they are asked to shut up and do as they are told. The youngsters then realise that their elders are following these rituals and traditions without having any clue as to why they are doing so. This is how many people become disillusioned with rituals and traditions.

      Are you sure about the helicopter story in Pakistan? I have come across many such ‘authentic stories’, which turn out to be fictitious.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Satish. Please keep visiting.

  7. Wow!!! That was funny. People stick to their superstitious beliefs while they use technology for their rescue. Seems like technology is a loophole here.

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