If this was the title of a Group Discussion given for a job recruitment or a college interview, I would have walked out of that interview there and then. Because, for me, this question is not worth a discussion at all. It is not about whether it is right for women to keep this fast or whether it is wrong. It is about the futility of such discussions. What do we hope to gain out of such discussions? It is not about women empowerment, because as far as I know modern men don’t force women to keep this fast. If there is any form of duress at all, it is from the mother-in-law or the mother in the house. So, in essence, by empowering one woman to break the ritual of the fast, you would be depowering another one at the same time.
In fact, most women, I know, who practice this fast, do so because they like to do it. It is their form of expressing their love for their husbands. While I don’t believe in expressing love using such means, I, by no means, disagree with the millions of women who do it. They find pride and pleasure in it and that is absolutely fair. In the land of customs and rituals, this is another beautiful ritual. Whether there is any science or meaning behind it, who cares?
If one has to actually take time and effort to debate and create awareness about topics on women equality and empowerment, talk about child marriages or girl foeticide or objectification of girls in our day to day lives. If you care about life in general talk about why RSS is propagating beef ban, why farmers are dying, why genetic disorders are on the rise? I am sure there is much more to be gained discussing topics that will help us in improving someone’s quality of life even if it is by 0.01%.
As for Karvachauth, I think we should just let it be. As long as women keep this fast out of their own free will and don’t make their husbands feel guilty all day (or all life) long, it is a beautiful festival that need not be questioned. We all know that a fast will not save thy husband and a thread will not create thy brother, but we still choose to follow these traditions. These customs don’t make a girl weaker or a boy stronger. These just make our family closer.