WARNING: LONG POST
Some things confuse me. Some make me sad and some, angry. This is a strange combination of all of them. I am sitting here after having done a puja called 'chanan chatt' and having eaten nothing since the morning.
This is said to be one of the most important of all fasts (vratt) that a newly wedded marwari (Not sure about others) woman does.
Now most vratts have a story that goes along with it, which give people the reason to perform them and this is where my problem began today. While most of the pujas I have done before have a greater and logical moral that one can relate to - Protect animals (nag panchami) or building a good bond between you and your husband (Gangaur), this one was definitely different.
The story today was about a lady who would touch everything while menstruating because of which her husband turned into and ox and she in a dog. The rest of the story is broadly about how her daughter/daughter inlaw (not sure about the relation) had to stay hungry the whole day and offer water to the chanan chatt devi after seeing the moon. This water was then sprinkled on them to release them of the dog/ox curse. The moral, do not touch anything during these 6 days of the week (many women do not enter the kitchen or the temple till today). wedding dresses for older women
Now, I have been explained that with limited technology and help in older days, traditions like this were a way of allowing a women to take a break from household work. Hygiene during this time was also a question and thus women were asked to rest and maintain distance.
Pujas were a a social event then - many women coming together, dressing up, preparing a feast, singing songs and listening to stories. It was a relief from the mundane everyday routine.
An optimistic me is ready to believe this, though I do not completely believe in the idea of using fear to make people do this.
But why we do this today?
Most of the reasons that existed then are irrelevant for many women today if not all. Why aren't these stories altered into something that we can relate to today? Give me the moral and an option of whether I want to do the vratt or not. I'll reason it out and go for it if it suits me. I am trying to understand this better and would love to hear a different point of view.
About my decision today - I am going to fast today anyway. I want to be certain that my rumbling tummy has no role to play in my decision to quit this vratt. I am however not going to do the 'sprinkle water at the moon' ritual that marks the most important part of this puja. I will not perform something I do not respect or relate to.
Spending the rest of my day reading all other stories in the '12 months puja and fast' book so I know which ones I want to do and which ones I don't.