Lavina Melwani

The prayers associated with the fasts ask for a spiritual wedding or union with God, but when translated into the earthly realm, devotees believe that if you say the prayer you will have a happy marriage in this life. While the Shiva fast originated in North India, many Hindu women in the West, especially within the Sindhi community, follow the practice. Radhika Kripalani, a New Yorker, has been keeping the Shiva fast since she got married and came to this country more than 30 years ago. Although Hinduism doesn’t ask males to keep the fast, a few freethinking men do join their wives in the practice. In many Sindhi families living in the US, the Monday Shiva fast is a tradition. In one New Jersey household, fasting is a multigenerational affair.

Perhaps the strongest testimony comes from Sherina, who married into the family. “I was living in Spain and would visit my cousins in India and see them observing this fast,” she recalls. “My grandmother was looking for a suitable boy for me, but I was very picky! Since both my brothers lived in the US, I kept insisting that I wanted to marry someone from America.” An aunt persuaded her to keep the Monday fast: “Fast for four Mondays and see the results!” Sherina says the outcome was “amazing — after exactly four Mondays, it worked! I was shocked! “Within a month of starting to keep the fast, the family priest introduced her to Nari, a handsome businessman from Boston, and the two got engaged. They’ve been happily married for 14 years. Does Sherina see the fast as a fail-proof way of finding a soulmate? I don’t know,” she says, “but it worked for me. There is some power in it. —, concluded