Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fast, Faster, Fastest

So today is Hartalika or ‘Tay’ as we call it – the day before Ganesh Chaturti, the day of the once-a-year-fast in my house.

My mother, my aunts have been maintaining fast ever since I remember. It’s a custom in our community to observe it post marriage (unlike Maharashtrians girls who fast BEFORE marriage to procure good spouse, we seem to do it AFTER. I wonder why. Better luck in the next janam perhaps?)

Broadly I know it’s a Gauri puja which is equivalent to the North Indian ‘Teej’ but don’t really know the religious intricacies or symbolism of the festival.

In my family, the preparations used to start a week in advance. My ma has a VERY low tolerance for hunger, thus, we (Dad and me) were prepped with the Do’s and Don’ts

a)DO obey her implicitly
b)DO listen to her talk about food and hunger the whole day
c)DO NOT get on her nerves
d)DO NOT expect anything in the nature of work – exhausting or otherwise
e)DO NOT discuss the correlation between fasts and irritability
f)DO NOT talk about how It will have a good influence on her weight ( this one was specifically targeted at my dad)

When the day dawned, I would be ordered to go and get 2 Tender coconuts and some random fruits, Every time I protested at being summarily ordered around, I would be subjected to a quite un-maternal look, often accompanied by vivid descriptions of cruelty to a starving mother.

My dad, looking at the list of fruits would whisper (“Ekadashi- duppat khashi”. ‘Ekadashi’ is one of those fasting days, ‘duppat khashi’ would translate as twice as much food (though not the usual chapatti + rice)) and quietly ensure that he stayed out of the firing line for the rest of the day.

Ma spent most of the day in the kitchen preparing a variety of upwas khanas – viz. Boiled yams, sundry juices, some concoctions which didn’t have wheat in them and so on and so forth. The rest of the time was spent purportedly trying not to think about food, but actually obsessing and talking about it ad nauseam When we ate our meals, Ma would put on her most long-suffering face and sigh loudly and morosely.
By the end of the day, it was difficult to figure out which of us (fasters or non- fasters) were actually more relieved that the day was over

Let’s forward to last year – viz, the first year post marriage.

I never did any of the fasting for the husband thing. Partly because I was supremely uninterested in getting married. And partly because I would have found it pretty darn desperate if I had to starve to snare a chap.

Somehow I ended up getting married. And then the Dharam sankat started.

To fast or not to fast?

Quite a few of the younger aunts and cousins had happily dispensed with the custom AND the mother and MIL were quite against me taking it up ( I was on medication for jaundice at the time). Thus, I had quite decided I wouldn't take up the Hartalika fast.

As luck would have it, on that very day, we escaped unhurt from a potentially nasty accident Promptly I guilt tripped myself into a fasting.So there we are.

So today I have to starve again. Fortunately, I have a higher tolerance for hunger than Ma does ( as long as I can get tea I am quite cheerful, deprive me of tea and you will have a raging maniac on your hands). So am not suffering (yet). All I have done is look at husband very mournfully in the morning in full abla naari ishtyle and declare dramatically to him that ‘I will be starving for you’ (He, like my Ma has a very low tolerance for hunger so is feeling very sorry for me and vaguely guilty). I have also kept an appropriately woeful status message on IM while sending these pitiful messages to everyone about how hungry I am.

Nautanki is good fun.

P.S. I am finally behaving like a good Bharatiya Naari?
P.P.S.I am very hungry!

20 comments:

??! said...

You're in serious danger of turning into Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. Not good.

Also, try spoonfuls of honey. Keeps your sugar and energy levels up when you're fasting. And more nutritious than sugar. Or sweeteners. Or gur.

And chew carrots. Fun times.

nowhere man said...

I know I know this is a light hearted post etc etc but was wondering...arent you an atheist? Wherefore did the notion of "fasting for hubby dear's health" notion come in ? Just curious :)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

?!?! hehe i dont think there is too much risk of that. I have already been condemned as the one who does-not-behave-like-married-female/daughter-in-law/coy-indian-female etc etc. In fact, an aunt actually barred me from talking to a cousin for fear that i might be contagious.

nowhere man - sometimes i think im just fasting to be contrary since both the mothers told me not too. and if it rubs off on husband dear, well great!
Not sure i am an atheist either. have fluctuated wildly being a believer to absolute atheism to being agnostic. now im justplain confused. Im pretty sure a lot of these rituals are just done as nice gestures, rather than earth shattering, religious rituals. Heck, if that was the case, im sure the MIL (at any rate) would have told me to take it up?

Veens said...

arre dontcha worry :))

didya know that we had Chole bhature here?! and yummy beet-root halwa too :D

i guess on Fast days I end up eatingmore than what I eat on normal days :) yahyah.. i fast too :))

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Veens. I am not worried. I am just hungry. I didnt read chole or halwa sentence. ha.

Trinaa said...

hahahaha...my mum forces me to eat more on fast days too...i swear i gain wght every time i fast!!

MAN IN PAINTING said...

lol
Wish you a happy hungry day..
sorry
I visited you in such a day..
i will visit on ganesh chathurthi..
will there be laddus?
MIP
me too blog
my latest one is a cartoon..
do visit..

Nandini Vishwanath said...

Are you serious!?!? Fasting and all?

I dunno if we have anything like that. Thankfully, my MIL sends me instructions on a powerpoint before every festival :D Its cute.

And I know about the atheist-deeply believing jazz. One small incident and am back to the Almighty ;)

Akshaya Kamalnath said...

Ha good one. I'll die if I dont eat a single meal. You fasters are all studs.

manuscrypts said...

made me wonder about the english language.. fast woman and woman who fasts.. whatte paradox :D

narendra shenoy said...

The missus does this "Tay" thing too. Dresses up in a fine saree (she avoids them usually) and insists on cooking everything herself (no servants). I am quite sure this is to ensure one of the following:
1. That she gets me as a husband in every life
2. That she DOES NOT get me as a husband in every life

She is very pokerfaced about it, but does the entire thing with utmost sincerity

a million different people said...

I cannot fast if people ask me to fast, you know. That is so not happening.

My mother thinks I fast on a daily basis. Not entirely true.

Thanatos said...

How about eating really crappy food on the eve so that the system has a lot of trouble recovering? Then you can just sit in a corner and hate food, hate yourself and hence not have any bad feelings left for the big toad in the sky...

Mo said...

I stick to vegetarian food -- big compromise, I know.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

trina - contradiction in terms no. always wondered aboutthat.

MIP - modaks. indeed there are. come, come, the more the merrier.

nandini - powerpoint? thats one hep ma in law you have. and yus, one incident and one scampers for cover no?

akshaya - fast is a misnomer. everyone eats other things. just think of it as a picnic or a diet or something.

manu- yus, yus, wonder whether fast women fast and if so for what? hmmmmm.

naren - ah dresses up and all? i dont do all of that. hehe. any bets you have on which of the two it actually is?

million different people - actually neither of them even KNOW that i fast. strangely enuf. do you fast everyday? why? why? why? or is that the just indian mother wanting a 'healthy' child?

thanatos - that is a VERY, VERY good idea.i shall do it next year.

Mo - if you are a hardcore non veg thats half the battle done no?

Pinku said...

thats beautiful...a fasting cynic...awesome!!!!

by the way my then would be husband once kept the Karvachauth vrat for me...and i didnt get to know till evening. Apparently i had made a comment like why should only women fast for men which prompted him to do it.

We went looking for the moon which took ages to show up and then finally broke it with a domino's non veg pizza...

Cynic in Wonderland said...

ok that was sweet of your husband. i would suggest that - you know gender equality and all that, but i know if the hero doesnt eat, i will have a shortened life. so much for my wellbeing.

non veg pizza be nice touch hehe

Epiphany said...

I seriously think your mum should have her own blog..we need the other side of the story too na! :)

Morpheus said...

I remember my baby brother fasting..or attempting to..asking grandad.marie biscuit is not 'anaaj' I can eat it? yes came the answer, chocolate chip cookie is not 'anaaj' I can eat it? yes came the answer. The brother would happily boast about his fasting while the grandad looked on smiling benevolently.
Nice blog..came by Chandni's to here.

claytonia vices said...

LOL Nice post!

"...to starve to snare a chap."

This phrase had me ROTFL!!