If there’s one Bollywood movie I can watch a hundred times besides Sholay, it is Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Do you remember the Karwa Chauth scene in which Raj finally gives Simran the first sip of water to break her fast? And as he feeds her her first morsel of the day, she learns that he has fasted with her too. It was such an “Awww” moment. Wasn’t it?
In true Bollywood style, Karwa Chauth in my house has always been celebrated with fervour. On the eve of the fast, my mom-in-law would come home with Sargi – a big basket of fruits, pheniya, boxes of mithai, coconut, a vanity case that contained Mehendi, sindhoor, bangles, bindis, lipstick, nail polish, red ribbon and a saree, neatly packed in a box. She was particular that she never repeat a colour, or the design of the saree be similar to the others that she had previously gifted. With squeals of excitement, I would open the box with a gleam in my eyes. In spite of all of this, I would search the table for Ma’s speciality – homemade ‘mathis’. An integral part of the sargi, Ma would make them herself – both sweet and namkeen. She knew her bahu’s weakness for this snack.
In the early hours of the morning on Karwa Chauth, before the first appearance of daylight, I would wake up to the aroma of food floating from the kitchen. Bhiru bhaiya, the khansaama of the family would make paneer bhurji, ghee soaked paranthas and pheniya simmering in hot milk. Ma would sit by my side, cutting fruits and gently cajoling me to eat just ‘one more parantha’. The feast would end with a cup of ‘adrak chai’ and meethi mathi… flaky, crispy and coated with sugar syrup. Not only on Karwa chauth, this snack is such a delight to have with tea on any day and can be had namkeen or sweet. Karwa Chauth was our special time. Ma’s and mine. She would pamper the ‘bahu’ who was about to start the ‘nirjala vrat‘ – A day without food and water. An ultimate expression of love by a woman for her husband, Karwa Chauth also strengthens the bond between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.
Ma is no more but each Karwa Chauth, I continue to celebrate the festival exactly the same way as she would have wanted me to. I always end my sargi with meethi mathi and my hot cup of ginger tea. It’s her recipe that I learnt. It reminds me that even though she isn’t physically present, she continues to live in my thoughts and in the rituals which she has handed over to me.