Karwa Chauth may be a festival about a couple’s togetherness, but since time immemorial, the ties that bind have gone over and beyond for women. It’s the all-encompassing feminine friendship they bask in. The warmth of reassurance. Forgetting about their daily travails and celebrating themselves and each other. It’s a long-standing tradition. In the days of yore, a young bride would find a cohort in her kangan saheli or dharam-behen. She had someone to lean on, comfort, and guide her as she traversed through the uncharted waters in a new world away from her people. Karwa Chauth became their day to rejoice all they held close to their heart — a life partner at home and friends who made them feel at home. As they counted their blessings, the Karwa (earthen pots) filled with trinkets, make-up, clothes, and homemade sweets became a symbol for their hearts teeming with friendship’s purity and endurance.
A Time-honoured Tradition
With time, neither the traditional festival nor the fervour to celebrate it has lost its shimmer. And a fine example would be High Street clothing brand LoveGen’s co-founder and actor on the famed Fabulous lives of Bollywood Wives, Bhavana Pandey, and her co-star from the series, jewellery designer Maheep Kapoor. The celebrities, married to actors Chunky Pandey and Sanjay Kapoor, respectively, have been exalting their friendship by revelling in Karwa Chauth together ever since they tied the knot — incidentally in the same year, 1998. Bhavana recalls, “I come from a Punjabi household where Karwa Chauth was an integral part of our family. When I was getting married, I had hoped to have friends who valued the emotional significance of Karwa Chauth as ardently as I did. And I’m fortunate to have found that in Maheep, as her family follows all the rituals so beautifully.”
The essence of Karwa Chauth is in following the rituals, but for Bhavana and Maheep, it’s about reliving the precious moments and the zest. Mehendi on Karwa Chauth eve, Sargi at 5 AM, spending the day pampering themselves to finery and meeting at Maheep’s sister-in-law Sunita Kapoor’s (actor and producer Anil Kapoor’s wife) Juhu abode.
Until their husbands arrive, it’s exclusively their time. As they celebrate Karwa Chauth with pooja and katha, they also speak the love language of friendship. As the Moon shines above, a piece of Earth is strewn with stars, with the luminousness from the finest threads and regalia that adorn each one of them.
Bound by Love
Love fills the air from all corners on that special evening with Bhavana and Maheep’s husbands showering affection on them through adorable gestures. Chunky and Sanjay send their staff to look for the Moon and constantly check in on their wives. “Even though Chunky is usually late for meetings, he ensures to reach Sunita’s home on time on Karwa Chauth, even before the Moon comes out,” Bhavana says with a smile. “Being late and squabbling is out of question on that day,” Maheep chimes in.
The look of pride and incredulity on Chunky and Sanjay’s faces is priceless, Maheep divulges. “One of the most cherished things for us is gazing at their expressions as we do the pooja or other rituals. They beam because they can’t believe we are doing this for them,” Maheep says. As celebrating Karwa Chauth has always come from a place of love and respect for their husbands, these little things make the day more special, Bhavana tells us.
Touching a Magnificent Milestone
Bhavana and Maheep reach a wondrous milestone in 2023 — 25 years since they wedded. At the tender age of 22 and 23, respectively. While their relationships have stood the test of time, the glory of Karwa Chauth has not weaned either. “We are still as spirited about the celebrations as we were back then,” Maheep states. Swathing oneself in exquisite apparel and natural diamonds is at the heart of the jubilation. “We believe in maintaining the brilliance and beauty of the bridal look.” Each accoutrement is trendy yet time-honoured, and complete with traditional gold bangles, bindi and Mangalsutra. Bhavana says, “Diamonds are always a part of us, as we always wear the wedding ring and Mangalsutra that day.”
Diamonds are Emotion
Natural diamonds have always added sparkle to their ensemble and lives. “The first ornament I received as a bride was a diamond-studded Mangalsutra. It was my mother-in-law’s, and she passed it on to me. It’s a piece of vintage art. My engagement ring, a Solitaire, is also extremely close to my heart as Chunky gave it to me when he proposed,” Bhavana says. So, the gemstones are as much about cherished emotions as a thing of beauty. “No matter what jewellery I wear for Karwa Chauth, these two things are always there on me. I also couple a diamond bangle my mother-in-law gifted me on my wedding day with a gold kada,” she divulges.
For nearly 25 years, the nuggets have been a part of Bhavana’s treasure trove of jewellery, and have remained untouched by redux. “These are classics and too beautiful. I cannot imagine refashioning them for anything,” she emphasises with a hint of pride. Maheep, on the other hand, has indulged in her penchant for reinvigorating her embellishments. “I’ve made my Mangalsutra brighter and bigger with solitaire and a lotus, as it has a deep meaning for me. I also always wear a gold kada with natural diamonds,” says she.
Every natural diamond Maheep owns is steeped in a story. “My grandmother wore the diamond jewellery for her wedding before I got the set. And Buddhism says that the lotus blooms in muck, yet there’s never a speck of dirt on it. That’s how we need to evolve. Whatever hardships you face, you must bloom to be pure and beautiful,” she says.
Passing on the Legacy
For Bhavana, the diamond’s permanence and purity make it meaningful vis-à-vis marriage, relations, friendship and children. When Maheep buys diamonds, she thinks of her daughter Shanaya Kapoor first, as she reveals, “I don’t consider it as mine, but think I’m safekeeping it for the next generation and the one after that.” She and Bhavana see their diamonds as not only heirlooms but also equivalent to family values handed down like legacy.
Speaking of the next generation, Maheep remembers fondly, “When I was pregnant with Shanaya, I used to go to Bhavana’s house every afternoon and have a Brownie and Ice Cream. Ananya would crawl up on my belly and fall asleep.” Bhavana says, “Maheep and I became friends 23 years into our lives. But Ananya and Shanaya have been friends from Day 0. It’s beautiful to see their bonding.”
Like natural diamonds they hold so precious, Bhavana and Maheep have also passed on the virtue of friendship to the next generation!