â€˜Karva Chauthâ€™ is a nice little colourful festival. But pause for a moment and consider if it is really a part of the culture of entire Himachal Pradesh, particularly upper Himachal !
Agreed the festival today is celebrated with great zeal and zest across the hill state, which sometimes gives the false impression that it has been with us in the hills for generations.
On the contrary old timers say the festival is recent, so recent, barely 15 to 20 years old.
Karva Chauth was unheard of until recently in over half the state.In rural Shimla, Kinnaur, Lahaul & Spiti. In parts of Kullu, Sirmaur and Chamba it was unknown until less than a generation ago.
Ask any elderly highlander, a Kinnaura, a Lahaula, a Kullua, a Sirmauria or a Chopalia. Ask a Kotkaru, a Kotgarhu, a Kumarsanu, a Choharu or a Gaddi shepherd and the reply most likely will be that the festival is new and has made its way into their isolated world in the last few years.
This to me is yet another wave of â€˜punjabisationâ€™ affecting and diluting the old world of the hills.
Could this also be yet another influence of TV soap operas beaming into our homes. The false glamourisation of scheming, over-made women in flashy saris and dangling jewellery, seemingly fasting on karva chauth to win over their naive men.
Back to the real world, in many parts of Himachal it is so easy to find couples who had their first karva chauth after becoming grand parents.
Nothing wrong with this, but it only proves that the festival is recent and borrowed and not part of the local tradition.
It proves that karva chauth is only a trend and a fad adopted from the neighbouring lower hills and plains.
It proves yet again how easily popular culture from the plains overruns the lives of the vulnerable hill folk who often get a great kick aping their Punjabi neighbours from the plains !
Photo’s by Amit Kanwar