Shah pointed out that India is moving towards becoming a conservative society and might become like Saudi Arabia.
On July 26, PinkVilla published a video interview of veteran actress Ratna Pathak Shah. During the interview, while talking about society and how difficult it is for women in India, she made a bizarre statement and targeted the Hindu festival Karwa Chauth. Shah pointed out that India is moving towards becoming a conservative society and might become like Saudi Arabia. The reason she gave was someone had asked her last year if she observed Karwa Chauth fast or not. To the question, Shah had replied, “Am I mad?” Ratna Pathak Shah is wife of actor Naseeruddin Shah.
Karwa Chauth is an age-old tradition followed by North Indian Hindu women in which they observe fast and pray for long life for their husbands. She said, “Nothing has changed for women, or very little has changed in very crucial areas. Our society is becoming extremely conservative. We’re becoming superstitious, we’re being forced into accepting and making religion a very important part of one’s life. Someone asked me for the first time last year if I’m keeping ‘karwa Chauth ka vrat (observing karwa Chauth)’. I said, ‘Am I mad?’”
She further added, “Isn’t it appalling that modern educated women do karwa Chauth, praying for the lives of husbands so that they can have some validity in life? A widow in the Indian context is a horrible situation, isn’t it? So anything that keeps me away from widowhood. Really? In the 21st century, we are talking like this? Educated women are doing this.”
Shah said that when a country becomes more conservative, it clamps down its women first. She said, “Look at all the conservative societies in this world. Women are the ones who are most affected. What’s the scope of women in Saudi Arabia? Do we want to become like Saudi Arabia? And we will become because it’s very, very convenient. Women provide a lot of unpaid labour within the home. If you have to pay for that labour, who will do it? Women are forced into that situation.”
Referring to other Hindu practices like Kundali (Astrology) and Vastu, she claimed that ads for such services were a sign that India was becoming conservative. She also pointed toward the mushrooming of Godmen like Nityananda to express her concerns about India becoming more and more conservative.
Furthermore, she talked about the murder of Dhaborkar and the delay in the trial of the case, she said, “When a rationalist like Dhaborkar gets killed in broad daylight, and nothing can be done about it. His trial is still going on. We are moving towards an extremely conservative society.”
Netizens react to Shah’s statement on Karwa Chauth
Twitter user Sheetal Chopra said, “Ratna Pathak Shah finds Karwa Chauth extremely conservative & compares India with Saudi Arabia. But the hypocrite was completely silent on Hijab issue. What else can we expect from a typical elite Bollywood Secularist.”
Twitter user Batla G said, “I genuinely thought Ratna Pathak was more sensible than Naseeruddin Shah.”
Twitter user Sweetgirl said Shah lost all her respect.
Twitter user Karuna Tyagi said, “So guys Halala, Mutah, hijab, polygamy, triple talaq r symbols of progressive society & Karva Chauth is regressive for secular #RatnaPathakShah waise she is married with a Islamist #naseeruddinshah so feel her pain..she is still in marriage yahi bahut badi baat hai.”
Bollywood and its hypocrisy
In recent years, a number of Bollywood celebrities have received flak for trying to preach morality and modernity only to Hindus. Not just Ratna Pathak Shah, but many others have made it a habit to specifically target Hindu festivals and rituals while keeping total silence on the conservative practices of other religions in India.
Furthermore, the superstitions that Ratna mentioned are not limited to Hindus either. It is not understood why would an accomplished actress like Ratna would forget the fact that observing the rituals of Karwa Chauth is an option that Hindu women choose to do, it is not forced upon them. As some social media users pointed out, no woman has been killed for not following the rituals and no Hindu organisation has made it mandatory for Hindu women to observe fast on Karwa Chauth. Moreover, as the festival gained popularity in recent years, in many families, even men observe a day-long fast for the health and wellbeing of their life partner.