This may be an old school way of thinking, but I have to say that the woman of the house generally has the role of creating traditions.
As the mother and general head of the house I have been tasked with sorting through VC and I’s family’s heritage and carrying through traditions. This is no easy task given the mix of cultures that we have come from.
VC is Filipino. Him and his sister are the first two of his family to be born in the US, both of his brothers and his parents were born in the Philippines. The majority of the family is in the US now and with them their have kept the Tagalog language, Filipino food and all traditions of the Filipino culture.
I am half Indian and half Scandinavian. My dad was born and raised in India and the vast majority of his side of the family live in Mumbai and Delhi. My mom is mainly caucasian, born in the US … her heritage is mostly Swedish with some Irish and Dutch. I grew up in a household that evenly split the Indian and American tradition. We celebrated the large Hindu holidays and learned about the mythology, we travelled to India we wore the clothes and we most commonly ate Indian food (my mom learned to cook it, and still does – yum!). However we also celebrated Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, went to church almost every Sunday and were baptized.
So as you can imagine there are quite a few traditions that I need to sort through. The G’s have a wealth of culture that will be thrown at them throughout life and I wish that I could carry all of the traditions and holidays out, but the reality is that I probably won’t and so 3 years into having my own family I am slowly making my way through the heritage jungle.
Tomorrow is one of those holidays that I haven’t celebrated in a while and think I will add back in rotation.
It is Karva Chauth.
Karva Chauth – ‘Chauth’ means ‘fourth day’ and ‘Karwa’ is an earther pot – symbolic of prosperity and well being. Chauth is the fourth night (day) after the Full Moon in Kartik month according to Hindu calendar. This is an occasion which pays tribute to the institution of marriage in India. Karva Chauth is predominantly observed in the north and north western parts of the country and is kept by married Hindu women. This fast is for the longevity of husband’s life and for continued marital bliss.
On this day the women get up before sunrise. They do their prayers and seek the blessings of the Gods for longevity and prosperity of their husbands and children. The women fast through the day from before the sun rises and the fast ends only after the first sighting of the moon at night. The women do not take any food or water.
When I was growing up my mom didn’t participate in Karva Chauth, but my paternal grandmother did. I remember observing this holiday very closely as a child.
The women are not expected to do any work or things around the home on Karva Chauth, instead they spend the day adorning themselves. My grandmother would have henna done, she would have her hair and nails done and would spend the day with her girlfriends primping. They would then put on stunning Saris and lots of beautiful jewelry. When the moon came out they would go outside with their husbands and view the moon through a veil covering their faces. My grandfather would offer my grandmother her first sip of water for the day and make sure that she had a wonderful meal, something sweet to eat and a little gift of gratitude.
9 years old at a puja with my Dadi
I saw it as the Indian Valentines Day. Its a sweet sweet holiday, that symbolizes love and affection.
The first time that I kept Karva Chauth was the first year I was married. My Grandmother called from India and told me that I had to do it, she said not participating would doom my marriage! I don’t know how much of the superstition that I believe but when my Grandmother told me to do something I listened. And so I fasted and that was that.
My Dadi … wasn’t she beautiful!
I haven’t kept the tradition since. My grandmother has now passed away and not being told I had to made me just not do it. Sorry Dadi.
This year I am going to get back on track. I want G1 to see the tradition and have the same memories that I had. But that is where it gets difficult. I am going to do a certain amount of adaptation for our lives here. The way I see it, it is the thought into the tradition that counts. The interpretation into our lives. That is how I am defining tradition in this family, and I can only hope that my children will enjoy the education and culture that it brings to our lives.
My plan for tomorrow is to fast sun up to sun down, although I may have some liquids because I have a full day of training clients tomorrow … (as much as I would rather spend the day at the spa!) I will take G1 to get our nails done, and I will dress us up in our Indian clothes for when the moon comes out. And then I hope to I break my fast with a lovely meal … (VC are you reading?!) Wish me luck!
How do you bring traditions to your family? Any one out there also celebrating Karwa Chauth?