AP photographer Kevin Frayer moved to New Delhi in 2009. Here he captures a community of coal scavengers who live and collect coal illegally for a few dollars a day in the village of Bokapahari, India
via Featured photojournalist: Kevin Frayer | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.
Image via Wikipedia
By SHIVANI VORA
Of course I want my husband to have good health and a long life, but it took me seven years to give up food and water in hopes of it.
Every autumn, many women — particularly those from northern India — observe Karwa Chauth, a daylong Hindu fast on behalf of their husbands’ prosperity. It falls on Oct. 25 this year.
Traditions vary, but most rise before the sun for a meal, known as sargi, often sent by their mothers-in-law, and spend the day dressed in their finest Indian garb, skipping their usual household duties.
Women gather in the afternoon for a prayer circle, where they pass around thalis — trays, with sweets, flowers or candles, and a glass of water five times while singing a song that explains the holiday’s origins. Then, come evening, they look at the moon through a sieve — never directly — and perform a prayer before their husbands, who give them their first sip of water and bite of food from their thalis.
I grew up — in India, New Jersey and Cleveland — watching these rituals: my grandmother served a sargi that included buttered paratas, sometimes stuffed with cauliflower and potatoes, an assortment of dried nuts and fruits, and Indian sweets like barfi, made with condensed milk. My mother hosted the afternoon prayer circle — called a puja — then looked for the moon from our backyard or, if it was elusive, from the passenger seat as my father drove her around the neighborhood.
When I became a mother two-and-a-half years ago, I had an urge to ingrain in my daughter all things Indian. So last year I went to my parents’ home in Ridgewood, N.J., and did a modified fast — I drank some water and ate a piece of fruit — sitting in that married-women’s circle, with my daughter looking on. I passed around my own thali; my mother had saved it for me in hopes that I would one day see the holiday’s beauty.