I do not know the historic or mythological reason for this ritual. You will probably find it on Wikipedia.
My guess though, is that women got into fewer life-threatening situations than men. Men would go off to war or go too far away towns to earn a living, or have hazardous jobs. That’s why women would pray for their husbands’ long lives.
Another factor is that women would basically sit at home and be bound by boring daily routines. They had very little avenues of entertainment besides socializing with family and members of their own community. Rituals and celebrations take on a whole new meaning then. No wonder there are still women who give tremendous importance to and obsess over every little ritual to the point of being impractical. Most of these women grew up before TV was a common commodity. So they saw their mothers and grandmothers obsessing over what to cook and how to light a lamp and learnt to do the same. These women are now stressing their daughters and daughters-in-law over the right rituals and how to do them.
When women get an education, learn to read, AND put that learning to use by reading worthwhile things and expanding their minds, THEN, women will let go off the small stuff and realize the point of rituals and celebrations is to basically socialize, create stronger bonds within the community, and eat good food. Everything else is hokum.
Men like Chetan Bhagat are already questioning and challenging these rituals. They claim to be fasting for their wives this year. Good thing, no?
This article was originally published on Quora by Anagha Bhat Chandratrey, Reader, writer.