Indian Hindu wives fast, sometimes luxuriously, for husbands’ health

October 14, 2011

(Indian women with their hands decorated with henna paste pray during the Hindu festival of Karva Chauth inside a temple's premises in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh October 7, 2009/Ajay Verma)

On Saturday, Kanika Syal will wake up before dawn to begin a fast at sunrise, and not eat or drink until she sees the moon at night — all in the hope her husband will have a long life. Karva Chauth is a centuries-old tradition observed by Hindu women annually in north India, where they dress up and fast for the day to pray for their spouse’s good health and success.

“Since a very long time ago, we have been looking at our mothers celebrate,” says the 25-year-old Syal, who is making her Karva Chauth debut as a newlywed. “It is our turn now.” But it’s different for the teacher-turned-homemaker, who, as a member of India’s rapidly growing middle class, will be doing a lot more than her mother ever did for the festival.

While it is customary for women to apply henna on their hands, buy clothes and expect gifts from relatives, the new generation of fast-keepers, with money to spare, is exploring a range of pampering options. They are spoilt for choice.

Syal will indulge in a 5,000 rupee ($102) diamond facial and body spa treatment to make sure she looks her best. Also on the must-have list for the urban elite are botox, laser-hair reduction and chemical peel treatments at spas and beauty parlors offering Karva Chauth packages.

“There is a 30 to 40 percent increase in the number of patients who look for cosmetic procedures around this time,” says Amit Bangia, head of the department of dermatology at the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.

The origins of the festival are shrouded in mystery, but one tale tells of a queen being duped by her brothers into breaking her fast before moonrise, leading to the king’s immediate death. She is given a second chance, fasts faithfully — and he returns to life.

Read the full story by Diksha Madhok in New Delhi here.


Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld

rss buttonSubscribe to all posts via RSS


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

The Acts of Apostle Thomas, there is record of a king Gundaphorus. The story states that the king’s brother Gad died and came back to life. Although, Gad is not THE King, he could be just as well being the King’s brother m

Posted by Bobby66 | Report as abusive

Wow, when you see stories like this, you know that the emerging markets are really starting to take off….

I only hope The West have not started to export our insecurities, with the rise of botox treatments, sites like these thriving in the emerging markets…

Last decade in India they had an epidemic of skin this decade going to plastic surgery..?

Posted by ScinBeauty | Report as abusive