Karva Chauth, which is an important festival for married Hindu women, is being celebrated today, October 24.  According to tradition, women go without consuming water or food all day, and they finish their fasting only after worshipping the moon. They pray for the safety and longevity of their husbands.

Usually, the married women who celebrate this festival deck up in their traditional finery, decorate their palms with attractive mehndi designs for the prayers that happen in the evening. Women go all out to looking their best to celebrate this day of love and devotion. It is usually the busiest time for beauty parlours and salons.

However, this year due to the current alert level 3 settings in Auckland, all the beauty parlours as well as salons are closed and that is upsetting for those women who want to get dressed up by professionals for the special occasion.

Sheetal Sharma, who will be celebrating her first Karwa Chauth this year, rues that she can't go to parlour on Karva Chauth. “I wanted my first Karva Chauth to be really special and had all the plans for the same. I wanted to look my best and get my hair and make-up from a professional beauty parlour. But this lockdown has ruined all my ideas. I can’t even get a good mehndi done. I have no option but to do my make-up myself. I wish parlours were open, especially during the festive period.”

Sailing in the same boat is Ekta Chauhan, who is requesting the government to open parlours and salons. She will be celebrating her first Karva Chauth in Auckland this year. "I have been married for three years, but this is the first time that I am in New Zealand on Karva Chauth. It is one of the most important occasions for Hindu married women like me and I wanted to look my best for the same. I wanted to get hair colour and even skin treatment but because of this lockdown in Auckland, I can't do anything. It has been months that I have not been able to even get threading done. I hope the government open up parlours and salons as soon as possible," says Ekta.

On the other hand, even beauty salons and parlour owners are saying that they have been facing huge financial loss because of the lockdown, especially during their peak festive season.

Anita Bhola, owner of Ladies Corner in Papatoetoe, says, "Every year Navratri, Karwa Chauth and Diwali are our busiest period. But this year because of lockdown, we have not been able to do any business and to be honest, I have suffered huge financial loss. I can’t even sleep at night thinking how will I recover from that. Each year we would easily do business of around $15,000 during Karwa Chauth and Diwali, but this time there is zero income. Our clients are calling us and waiting for us to open, but we are helpless. The government should think about us," says Anita.

Another beauty expert Bindu Grover of Bindu's Brow & Beauty believes the government should allow beauty salons to open even if additional health and safety protocols are needed.

“This year has been most challenging for the beauty sector especially with no income during the peak festive period. The financial damage that has been done is beyond repairs. As a therapist, I receive requests and calls from my client to open up, but I can't because of alert level 3.

“To help my client, I have started making videos giving beauty tips on TikTok.  I believe that now we have to live with Covid 19. I don't think the case number in New Zealand will go down to zero. The government should issue extra guidelines but let us operate. If they can let students of year 11 to year 13 return to school. Why can't they let us open with increased health and safety protocols?"