Actor Ratna Pathak Shah, who has been active in the film and television industry for close to four decades, said in a recent interview that the Indian society is becoming “extremely conservative” because for the first time last year, she was asked if she observed Karwa Chauth.
The Kapoor and Sons actor, who is married to another Bollywood actor, Naseeruddin Shah, said, “Our society is becoming extremely conservative. I feel that very strongly. We are becoming superstitious. We are being forced into accepting and making religion a very important part of our lives. Suddenly, everyone is talking about…Karwa Chauth ka vrat nahi kar rahe? [Are you not observing Karwa Chauth?]”. Aaj tak kisi ne mujhse nai poochcha [nobody asked me this ever].”
She said she was asked this for the first time last year. When the interviewer from Pinkvilla website asked her how she reacted, she replied, “I said, am I mad?”
She continued, “Isn’t it appalling that modern educated women do Karwa Chauth, praying for lives of husbands so that they can have some validity in life? Because 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 has been trolled and criticised for this and other statements made in the interview, where she also compared India with Saudi Arabia. Many social media users asked her why a harmless custom like Karwa Chauth angered her and serious violations of women’s dignity through Islamic practices of teen talaq, halala and mutah did not.
Throughout the interview, Shah made no mention of the spate of recent murders by zealous Islamists over ‘blasphemous’ social media posts including Kanhaiya Lal in Rajasthan and Umesh Kolhe in Maharashtra. She also entirely skipped commenting on the recent movement to introduce hijab in government-owned schools and colleges in Karnataka.
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