Sanjeev Kotnala: Karva Chauth under Covid-19 impact

11 Nov,2020

By Sanjeev Kotnala


KarvaChauth is a festival that is entirely celebrated by women. Funny men are hardly included in the festivity, when the whole festival is about  the long life of their spouse. But, under the Covid-19 spectre, it was not the same. Women were not meeting in groups to apply Henna (Mehndi) or sing feri during the KarvaChauth puja. Even at the rooftop while sighting the moon, they kept to social distancing.


It was the evening before KarvaChauth. The day women in the society would have collected at someone’s home with Mehindiwali busy drawing intricate designs on their palm. Covid-19 ensured nothing of this nature was happening. Every married woman was on her own. Tradition and rituals still need to be adhered to. So, the task of applying mehndi on my wife’s palm now rested with my daughter, Preetica. At night, while SRH was slowly making way to qualify in the IPL playoff, Preetica was applying Mehndi on my wife’s left hand. It was her first time, and yet She was doing an excellent job of it.


Preetica, who is soon to go to Great Lakes Chennai for her PGDM course, showed sign of project management. She proactively brought Mehndi cones home and for the last two days practised the art by applying Mehndi on paper. (Practice results below)


I was busy watching David Warner and Wriddiman Saha at IPL20  bat full throttle. I was also waiting to watch BiggBoss after the match, to watch Pavitra Punia and Eijaz Khan banter.

I was not ready for what happened next.



My wife realised that it may take longer for Preetica to apply Mehndi on both hands. Hence, she requested me; the Compulsive Doodler if I could do the honours for the right hand. It was a festive time, and then Mehndi applied by the spouse is an auspicious sign. She was okay with whatever the results may be, and there was no way I could refuse. Moreover, right now, she was asking with a smile, and it was still a request.

People know me as #CompulsiveDoodler. They wonder at the #structuredDoodles I create. Recently I have done few commissioned assignments for Vanshakti Mumbai, a motorcycle enthusiast and Cottage Nirvana at Mukhteshwar. My confidence level was very high.


You can check out the doodles and if interested, order your exclusive doodle as home decor or gift.



Hence, everyone other than me expected applying Mehndi to be a cakewalk for me. I knew the reality. I remember the last time I tried the stunt of playing Mehndiwala in one of my cousin’s marriage. The results were not worth writing home.

I could have said NO and ended up with some arguments, and it was not the right time for it. So, I went with the flow. I took her right hand and opened the cone by removing the pin. Suddenly, from the opening mehndi started oozing out like thin worms. It made me nervous, and I was told it does happen because of the pressure. I removed my hand faster than Shekar Dhawan in Dream11 ad. After some time, the oozing did stop, and I was ready for the act.

My daughter was referring to some design on her mobile. But, I the ardent follower of Zen Tangles and Mandala art tried doing my own bit. I decided to experiment with unsymmetric patterns. The design ended with crooked lines, thick blobs of Mehndi and looked not-good’.

I was getting an anxiety attack as I expect much better from myself. My hands were not steady. The grip was not proper. The pressure on the cone not well managed. The Mehndi solution never obeyed my command and continued to ooze out in the form of thin spaghetti type of droppings. There was not a single straight line.



I remember my earlier fiasco with Golf at one of India’s oldest Golf Course at Naldehra, 23 Km from Shimla. Just because I play cricket, I thought, I can be reasonably okay with Golf. What is the difference? In Golf you have is a thin odd-shaped bat and a stationary ball. How tough could it be?

That was before I took some 55 shots for the 322-yard Par4 first hole. For the record, the 18-hole 5987-yard Golf course is a Par 68 round. Needless to say, that was the only and the last hole at a Golf course I ever played in. Though, I still try my hand at the driving range and believe have got the hang of it.



Back to KarvaChauth. By the time I had covered one-fourth of her palm, my wife had realised that it was going to be disastrous, and the shagun of the auspicious act is over.

It was left to Preetica to do damage control. Despite it being her first time, she did a fantastic job, and that includes her doing corrective work on the mehndi of my attempt.



As a habit, I thought about the whole act and realised that if I follow the PaRAM ( Pause, Reflect, Absorb and Move-on) process, there are some important learnings in the episode.

Here they are.

1. The performance pressure kills creativity by enhancing anxiety.

2. It is OKAY not to be good at everything.

3. Everything can be done if you want to and if you practice.

4. If you can’t do something today, it does not mean you won’t be able to do it ever.

5. Just because you can do something, does not mean you should.

6. I still have to earn how to not say YES when I want to say NO.

7. You can be proactive by anticipating things and taking action, or you could be reactive. The decision is yours.

Oh, by the way, we were left with few unused cones. We kept them to practising later, which I know will never happen. And if it does, it will be near to the next KarvaChauth.



I know, Preetica buoyant with her first successful attempt will practice. She has the loop of appreciation working for her. I won’t practice because the experience was not right, and it is definitely not my priority.

You get to learn so much by merely analysing and thinking over episodes in your life. What lessons you take and what lessons you implement is your call.



There were few Mehndiwali and wala in action. Women were not stepping out for Mehndi due to the Corona scare. Maybe this was a time for some brand to create a hygienical safe pool of Mehndiwala and like the bank separated counters – keep the customer and then separated with Glass/acyclic window.  Maybe it could have been possible.


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