F(e)asting through festivals

On the eve of Shivratri I am re-posting a ‘fasting’ post, especially since this post is getting a lot of hits today!

Fasting seems to have stuck to me and my blog – fast. I can’t help it, what with Anna, Baba Ramdev and even the likes of Modi going on one to make their points/presence. None of them gave me a complex for not fasting though, not even Anna who had fasted for a cause.

But my maids over the years have been another matter altogether and when they start giving me a guilt complex on account of their fasts and my non-fasts, it is time to start pondering and ranting. Don’t you agree?

I once had this maid who fasted on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The heathen that I was, I would make a breakfast of upma with onions in it. She would sniff it the moment she came into the kitchen. ‘Don’t give me breakfast today. I will just have tea,’ she would announce loftily. The first time I had innocently asked her why. ‘It is my fast today and I won’t eat onions,’ she had replied, looking at me pointedly. Suddenly reduced to the height of two inches, I would try to dig a hole with my toes big enough to bury myself in for shame. It was bad enough that I didn’t fast on any day of the week, it was worse that I ate onions on the days she fasted. So I would try to remember frantically each morning to look up the calendar to ascertain her fast days and make something that would be acceptable to her. I swear that no bahu could have been as mortally afraid of her mother-in-law as I was of this maid!

There was this other one, who didn’t eat any cooked food on Mondays and no salt on Thursdays. I would have to remember to give her some fruit with her tea on these days. Even that I could take, but when she asked me, ‘Aap barat nahin rakhte kya? (Don’t you observe any fast?) I would look at her guiltily and shake my head awash with shame – for being a middle-aged woman and a grandmother to boot – and eating everyday of the week!

It was worse when I had a Muslim maid. During Ramzan, she would not even swallow her saliva, going to the washbasin every few minutes to spit it out. It would make me so self conscious that I would wait for her to finish her chores and leave so that I could have a cup of tea or make something to eat. Not that she asked me anything about not fasting. Thank God for small mercies!

Alas, all of these women or their taunts couldn’t still make me start fasting – for love of ideology/power/kursi. I am not including God because I don’t  believe that one needs to fast to show one’s love for Him. We south Indians especially believe that festivals are meant for feasting and not fasting. We have specific and elaborate naivedyams (offerings) for each festival and we lovingly prepare them, do puja, offer them to God and then gorge on them! Of course, all the heavy food meant that one couldn’t eat more than one meal that day and so we fasted in the evenings. Convenient, isn’t it?

On Ganesh chaturthi, we make a whole lot of things starting with modak, vada, sweet appam, sundal, kheer, laddoo and offer an assortment of fruits. Or take Navaratri: the offerings include a sweet, a sundal, a mixed rice preparation all the nine days and one of Dushera. I had written about the way we celebrate this festival here. All the pujas are done in the mornings, which meant that the Gods (and you) are well fed by noon. When you are celebrating the birthday of a God, how can you starve Him the whole day? I can think of only a couple of festivals/vrats that are celebrated in the evening and so one fasted through the day and prepared all the goodies to offer God in the evenings. Janmashtami is one such. Shivaratri is the only festival during which nothing is eaten all day and night too, if one could manage to go hungry and stay awake.

Now take our northern counterparts. They fast on all festivals be it Navaratri or Shivaratri. I find this unacceptable because Hindus believe that every life form is the incarnation of God. So how can you starve the God inside you? In fact, unless you are highly spiritual or extremely religious, it is not possible to ignore the gnawing inside your stomach and pray. People in my old neighbourhood used to be aghast at the spectacle of a woman who did her puja-paath after filling her belly. ‘Don’t you fast during Navaratri?’ asked one busybody. ‘No. We offer the goddess a feast and eat the prasad!’ I told her without batting an eye. After all, you only have to add an ‘E’ to fast to make a feast, right? Needless to say, she turned away in disgust.

Often, religious fasting is not just about fasting. It is also about eating. You can eat certain foods during fasts or after breaking the fast. Sabudana, potatoes, nuts, fruits, milk, tea, coffee, juices….the list is exhaustive. Maharashtrians have a whole range of yummy upvas-layak (suitable for upvas) foods. Come Navaratri, the restaurants in the capital have special thalis, which has dishes prepared from specific foods that are ‘allowed’ during the fasting period. Eating certain foods and avoiding certain others is part of fasting. Come to think of it, religious fasting is pretty complicated!

Don’t take me amiss. I am not against such fasting, even I fast on occasions as detailed above when I eat just one meal, but never through the day. Fasting is an ideal way to cleanse the system, and enhance one’s spirituality. What gets my goat is the sanctimonious way in which those who fast act vis-à-vis us non fasters — as if we are the ultimate sinners, as they down gallons of tea or coffee, not to speak of other ‘acceptable eatables’, in the name of fasting. Some have food taboos during certain days of the week – they would not eat meat or eggs on say, Mondays or Tuesdays or whichever day they observed a fast. If they feel eating meet or eggs is morally or spiritually wrong, how can it make it right if they eat them on other days of the week? I have never been able to get a satisfactory reply from these people on this subject.

Typically, religious fasting is undertaken with the purpose of going closer to God and one is expected to engage in spiritual pursuits and prayers. Also it is healthy to fast periodically as one grows older, but I find it unacceptable when young children observe vrats and fasts and are encouraged to do so by their parents and elders because their bodies are not designed for fasting and they need all the energy they can get.

Fasting is not restricted to the Hindus alone. All major religions have fasting in some form or the other. Christians fast during Lent and Muslims during the month of Ramzan.  Muslims are allowed to eat before sunrise and after sunset, but forgo even water during the day, which can be really tough since the month typically falls during summer. Jains have several ways of fasting too.

Do you feel that one can get closer to God only by fasting? Or am I the only oddball in this world who thinks otherwise?

 

Image courtesy: Hindu.com

59 comments

  1. I cannnot fast under any circumstance…I get hypoglycemic and irritable by mid-morning if I do so. So, fasting for my health is out! I also consider it bargaining with a higher power to fast for the good of my husband/children/family etc! I have no issues with other people who fast but woe betide anyone who tries to make me feel guity!

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    1. It is not just the religious zealots who get my goat, but the exercise nazi can too! I simply listen to my body and fast when it asks for rest. Sometimes it is for an entire day too. I am careful not to overload it with undesirable stuff at other times.

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  2. i cant fast.. i dont believe in it and have enough of acidity problem.. 🙂 lucky that non in my family expect me to fast or make me wait for the puja to get over to have food..

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  3. Lovely post, as usual, zephyr, and I have no idea how I missed this post earlier 🙂 and I couldn’t agree with you more. The next time someone asks me why I don’t fast, I will send them this link:-) my mom as mother in law do fast occasionally,but thankfully, neither of them ask me to 🙂 except of course, the palaharam during festivals, which I am more than happy to partake of ! Its the relatives, who observe every fast their friends do, who can’t understand why I don’t feel compelled to, and irritate me with questions 🙂

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    1. You know the post is written by someone of your MIL and mother’s gens, which makes it an anachronism, right? Having written this post, I will also be soon publishing another one where I will be partly justifying the concept. And THAT would be a bigger anachronism and I would love to read your comment on that one too 🙂 As for missing the post, it was written long back when you had not started reading me, that is why I re-posted it — to nag those who had missed it 😀

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  4. ‘Do you feel that one can get closer to God only by fasting? Or am I the only oddball in this world who thinks otherwise?’

    No,I do not get closer to my god, because I do not think that is the way to reach god. Religious observations in India in my understanding are for ego boost. When I say I fast, I am blowing up this ego. Believers and god fearing people enjoy special recognition there etc. For that they have to fast, go to temple, church, eat only blessed food, do not swallow even the spittle. Remember religious hierarchy there is a function of ‘purity’ and food plays a big role in it.

    Even after sixty seven or more odd years, these fast-non- fast -ego-cash continues In India is a manifestation that it hasn’t yet become a democracy. I mean, religions still determine peoples’ conscience there. So long as it continues the ego clash would continue.,

    In countries where democracy determines people’s conscience, religious fasting and similar observations are for celebrations.

    Religious fasting should be a matter of personal choices. I do not think my fasting maid would instill here or in Kerala any guilt-complex in me. I would tell her these are our personal choices, I do not fast, so you can bring special lunch packet from your home, and do not expect me to avoid cooking food that are unholy for you. And moreover you are at work.

    For Keralites Onam is a big cultural festival. But I do not get any holiday here for onam. If I want I can take leave and stay at home to have special meals, if I cannot take leave it is just another working day for me.

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    1. Fasting, whether for religious or fad dieting reasons has to be a personal choice. And today, most people refuse to bow to relgious pressure and do their own thing, as is evident from all the comments. But an occasional cleansing is necessary. So fasting is not bad. I do it when my body demands rest. And I feel fresher for it, but if I have to do it on every Tuesday, say, I might not be able to do it.

      Of course I don’t let my maid dictate terms to me. And the reason I give my old maid her fasting food is because she does it with so much faith and I respect that. If she can’t respect my choice of not fasting, it is her problem. As for waiting for my Muslim maid to leave before eating, I always give them food if they happen to be around at breakfast or lunch time, as I feel awkward eating when they are working probably on a hungry stomach.

      Would you please also read my post ‘Coming full circle?’

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  5. A very good post, indeed. I have been questioning the attitude of people towards fasts since long. It’s a choice; can’t be and shouldn’t be forced.

    To your question: Do you feel that one can get closer to God only by fasting?
    There’s a whole Jain concept for that which I used to follow as a kid. For me, fasting was never to judge my devotion but to test my endurance.

    I still appreciate what they say in the shastras but to work with nothing in the tummy and the knowledge that you won’t get to eat anything for the entire day would be a masochistic approach, don’t you think? 😉

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  6. I for one cant think of fasting. I have thought many times i should atleast from the health point of view but never ventured into it…..Max I could do is the somvaar vrat where u eat rice only once a day and being a malayali we have thiruvadira on which we cant eat any rice item for the entire day.
    I totally believe that god would not have wanted us to put us through that too……

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  7. Personally,I cant remember a single day when I skipped all meals ( that is saying something coz i stayed in hostel for four years ).. even if the food at work/hostel was worse than usual,I’d just go to a nearby joint to catch a bite because I’d feel better if people dint get to see my cranky side! 😉

    Cant imagine fasting through an indian festival, what with all the sweet dabbas and homemade snacks stacked at home! Its a brilliant test of self-control eh? 🙂 Anyway, as long as people believe it aids them in some way – mentally (hindu belief that the act absolves sins) or physically, I see nothing wrong in it.
    Some people take it a bit too far, one of my marwadi friends’ bhabhis actually fasted for a whole month – for the sake of longevity of her husband and family. Kinda beats the purpose if you are risking your own longevity and wrecking your own body in the process right?! To each his own, i guess 🙂 Ofcourse, judging others because they dont fast is totally unecessary! 😀

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    1. Nice to see you here after a long time, Sahitya 🙂 How have you been?

      Agree about to each his own, but like you say, when one puts one’s health and life at risk it beats the purpose of the fast. I especially get mad at my maids when they complain about their health the day after a fast. And on their fast day, I have to keep in mind their fast protocol to feed them 😛

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  8. i am part of your gang…one, i dont remember the dates – so not only do i end up non fsating or eating the wrong things including non veg…but i think Mr God is pretty cool with me!

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    1. God is always pretty cool and understanding. After all, He wants your faith and your goodness, not your empty stomach 🙂

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  9. I used to fast when I was in college.Silly me,thought it would fetch me a good husband.Snort.Snort.

    .I don’t think God is keeping a book on “fasters” and a black book of “non-fasting-nutties”.He better not be…

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    1. Of course God is not keeping tabs. It is us who take His name in vain and put all the onus on Him. But I bet he heeded your fast and gave you a good husband? So what if your perception of good might be different from His? 😀 😀

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  10. Apart from the religious side…fasting detoxifies the body.

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    1. Of course, when done properly, a fast is good for the system; in fact, it is a must for the system. I do that from time to time. But the fasting done while eating on ‘allowed’ stuff as Magiceye has mentioned is an oxymoron, isn’t it?

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  11. In today’s age of “Fast Food” , wont be suprised if Mcdonald’s comes out with a special Jain burger or some such….

    Completely agree with you, have never been able to fast nor had the inclination to do so. Guess i firmly beleive in ” sabse bada pooja – Pet pooja” 🙂

    Super write Up….

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    1. Already restaurants like Nirula’s in Delhi have special Navaratra thaIis (look a the pic) with dishes made from ‘allowed’ ingredients. So why should Mac be far behind? That reminds me of a blog titled, ‘Aadhi potoba,’ which celebrates pet puja 😀

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  12. lol! So true!
    Reminds me of a conference I had been to. During lunch there were 2 tables one for the ‘fasting’ people and the other one for the mortals.
    No prizes for guessing which table had a larger spread!!!
    Hinduism is the most user friendly religion!!

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    1. What a perfect description — user friendly religion 😀 When these ‘fasting’ people come to work, they expect sympathy and leniency from their customers. I fast when my system needs a rest and I do it in my way, not according to prescribed norms by other people.

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  13. Mami, Inspite of all the Vaadiyaars telling me not to eat anything during the Vratham before my Muhurtham, everyone made sure I didn’t go to meet my groom for the Oonjal hungry. Mama recognized cold feet and shoved a sweet into my mouth when he was waiting with me.
    I don’t understand how people don’t get irritated and angry when they go hungry all day. Its hormonal response to snap when you don’t feed the body.
    I don’t get it.

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    1. This is a few years back, but when I got married 34 years ago, my older sister locked the door and on the pretext of dressing me up for the muhurtham, kept shoving things into my mouth and the slow eater that I was i could not manage more than an idli before people got suspicious and started banging on the door. Even today I am the most irreverent grandmother of traditions you can find anywhere 😀

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  14. Zeph what a lovely take on fasting ! As you rightly said most religions and ancient cultures had Fasting as a spiritual exercise.I fast every week -a no food 24 hr fast -for giving rest to my system.It restores the digestive juices,improves sleep and ability to focus remarkably for me.I love it because what it does for me.
    But in India we have this drama of fasting for sons,husbands and other Gods which is seen not as a self-healing thing but as a virtue and sacrifice laden thing.Despite all the ungodly thoughts in the mind.And most of the people use it as an excuse to have a lot of goodies by way of a feast during the so called fasting.

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    1. Fasting done for health purposes is fine and so is religious fasting if done the way it should be. I find our way of first feasting and then fasting more sensible. When you fast for a whole day and then eat on all heavy stuff in the evening or the next morning as prasad, it will play havoc with the system. I have seen women eat huge quantities before sunrise to ‘keep them through the day’ on Karva Chauth. Wonder how their system copes.

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  15. I believe fasting and other religious ceremonies were devised by some wise souls so that poor women (and men, wherever applicable) could get a break from household chores and have some fruits and other delicacies to eat!

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  16. Mine is a strange story. My parents never fasted. Neither did my parents in law. I do, because I felt like. My daughter fasts on ‘Purnimas’. Again, I didn’t ask her to. But if there is something interesting on the menu at her work place, she conveniently adjusts the fasting day or even misses it.
    My father in law used to say ‘the best way of celebrating a festival is to cook good food and enjoy eating together’. Rituals could be followed if convenient.
    Even on the days I fast, i don’t feast, as I do that on all other days.

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    1. Your father in law echoes the south indian custom of celebrating festivals by feasting. We make such elaborate naivedyams for each one and share it with family and friends. I liked your daughter’s method of shifting the fasting day to some other convenient date if she finds something interesting. She is surely one of those who panders to the God in her. 🙂 Fasting for personal reasons is perfectly fine.

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  17. I am a staunch believer in feasting on the fast day. You see, I still get one millionth of the ‘punya’ of the person who eats and drinks nothing. Ah, its a nice change in diet and I get to gorge on sabudana khichdi and rasgullas (all milk sweets are allowed!). Now if that is not an incentive to fast, what would be? 🙂

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    1. Nice change in diet indeed, as my brother has pointed out too. Oh yes, you can eat all the milk sweets you want (or can) on fast days. I know now why sabudana has been designated as fasting food — everyone seems to love the khichdi 🙂

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  18. Actually fasting for many is a ‘change of food’. The amount eaten on fasting days could be even more than normal. As you have said, fastng is meant to cleanse our system. You might remember our childhood days when we used to be given castor oil with coffee to cleanse our stomach. (I am not sure how many mothers followed this even 50 years back).On those days till about afternoon, we have to fast and then have only rasam with rice. By doing that our system gets totally cleaned. All the rotten food and the polluted atmosphere we find today takes toll of a normal being but those who are conditioned as explained in childhood are better off. If the purpose of fasting is to go near God, then one should have the will to concentrate on God alone and not on the food one will have at the end of fasting. If one cannot concentrate with an empty stomach, no use fasting because your hunger then becomes God as you keep concentrating on HUNGER alone. How many agree with me?

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    1. Oh yes! Do I remember the castor oil routine! For a long long time, rasam rice made me remember the ordeal 😀 You are so right about the need to have the power of concentration to meditate on God while fasting. But if like me, one can’t ignore the gnawing hunger, what is the use? Like Shirdi Sai Baba advised, one should not pray or go to the temple on an empty stomach. I agree with you on the point of hunger as God.

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  19. I belong to your club too. Can’t fast – mainly because I don’t see the point in it. Yes, it is supposed to be cleansing – if done the right way. Plus for the likes of me, who get migraines if I skip a meal, I am sure no God would want me to be tortured thus 🙂

    I have come across people ‘fasting’ on potato chips- because they are allowed, or puris because again, they are ‘allowed’ – what sense does a fast like this make?

    And as you say, the worst part is when people look down on those who do not fast! I mean, each to his own, why force their views on others who have done nothing to stop them from following theirs?

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    1. Oh yes, the migraines! I am a fellow sufferer and that is one of the reasons for my no-fasting too. In the special navaratra thali, there is kuttu atta puris among other things. Look at the spread in the photo. it is a thali at Nirula’s in Delhi. I have always had to fend off people’s taunts and barbs about my not fasting on vrat days, but it is worse now, since I am older and supposed to be observing all the fasts most fastidiously 😀

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  20. Lovely post !
    Back at my parents while growing up we enjoyed few fasts like Ashaadh Ekadashi, Janmashshthami etc.! We looked forward to these fasting festivals when we hogged to our hearts content yummy dishes of sabudana, sweet potato, potato, bhagar, nuts and fruits….! Like Manju mentions – living the “ekadashi duppat khashi..” syndrome !
    But no fast for me too…I’d rather feast any day !

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    1. One of the things I remember about my mother’s ekadashi fasts was that she used to cook onions for me, since that day cooking was done only for my sake. This was after my last sister had also got married and left home. I must have been the only person eating the forbidden onion on a fasting day 😀

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  21. Mine too is a feasting family. 😉 Actually religion never asks us to fast. As you said how can u starve the God within you. And hpw can u pray if u r hungry.
    But like ekadashi and all, certain foods are not eaten but basically those days uncooked food fruits etc are taken so that not much time is taken to cook the food and more time devoted to God.
    Yes onions and garlic are prohibited on festivals but there is a reason for that too( rajogun, tamoguna)

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    1. What our ancestors did in the line of devotion and fasting had a lot of sense in it. But today we have ended up making an empty ritual of it. If you can’t remain hungry, eat by all means. God will not ask you to suffer and show your devotion to Him.

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  22. Me..Me..Me…I have fasted only once in my entire life. I think I managed to last only a few hours and kept thinking of what I would eat afterwards.

    So your hallowed self has company, you club has another lifelong member who refuses to show her devotion by depriving herself.

    Love this post.

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    1. Thank you for endorsing my feasting ways 😀 My FIL used to keep protesting to my MIL that he feels hungry and needed to eat, and she would tell him, ‘Can’t you stay hungry for a few hours?’ Thankfully she didn’t do the same to me and today I survive to tell the wicked tale 😛

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  23. A nice post talking so much about fasting with a plate full of delicacies on display !! Not fair!!

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  24. What nerve!! why wud you let anyone dictate your food habits amma???

    : i found that rude. fasting or not fasting is one’s own personal choice 😐

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    1. Don’t worry, i wouldn’t let anyone dictate to me on how to fast. It is my body and my choice to fast or feast while thinking of God, right? 😀 But the ‘devout’ can be rude when it comes to observing rituals.

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  25. Fasting is a personal philosophy. I don’t fast, but my mother does, as do some of my friends. My secretary is perpetually fasting for something or the other.

    ‘Palahaaram’ (or is falahaaram?) is the term generally used for fasting in Tamil. For my grandparents it meant abstaining from eating rice and rice-based products. So ‘fast-food’ could be anything from upma to chapatis to wheat ot maida dosas. Or fruits and rawa kanji. For us kids fasting for the elders was actually feasting for us as we did not have to eat the usual kootu, kari, sambaar, rasam… But yes, there was never total fasting, even on Shivratri where they would have milk and fruits.

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    1. Oh yes, the palaharam! often it becomes pala aharam (several foods) 😀 My mother fasted one time only except on Ekadashi when she ate just a couple of fruits and had two cups of coffee for the whole day. But had she fasted like the north Indians she would have become too emaciated. Almost all week there was something or the other for her to fast. On Vaikuntha Ekadashi, she would live just on tulsi water. She never asked either her daughters or daughters in law to fast though.

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  26. Enjoyed this post! I myself don’t really care one way or the other about fasting.

    In our family we fast on 2/3 days in a year, but it can’t really be called fasting because everyone relishes the special sago/ potato dishes prepared on fasting days.

    In fact in Marathi we have a saying- ” Ekadashi ani duppat khashi” [Eat double the usual amount on Ekadashi fast day]!

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    1. Thanks for reminding me of the Ekadashi saying. I had forgotten it when I wrote the post. Our forebears had a great sense of humour, didn’t they? 😀

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  27. Fasting is part of the embracing of a religion. be it a Hindu or of any other faith. Its true that these days the market is full of fast foods. I too bought some of these home as i keep two fasts during navratras and want my daughters too to keep. As to why fast? the answer is a very personal matter. ideally fasting should be done with either just fruit is or one square meal a day. the fruit diet works as an anti toxins and the one meal gives your digestive tracts a break. But not everybody can do this small test of a will. Not my hubby and not my neighbor. I encourage my daughters to fast as i want them to keep alive the customs of our faith. for life would be pretty dull without these customs. Moreover for North Indian girls, karvachauth is a must for every married woman when she eats sargi in the morning and food late night once the moon becomes visible.
    It is also seen as a small offering to God…. to devote a particular day and think more about Him than we do on a normal day as it also involves the ritual of puja.

    But if you cant and wont fast, surely nothing wrong in that. Like i said its a personal choice 🙂

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    1. Fasting is surely a personal matter. I would go as far as to say that it is between oneself and God. The post was prompted by those whose condemnation of my non-fasting ways really got my goat. in one stroke they find you guilty, convict you and then hang you for being a heretic 😀

      As I replied to Rachna, many men have begun fasting along with their wives on Karva Chauth these days. I find that cute 🙂 But Abha, often we are not able to devote all the time to prayers and meditation and in such cases, it is difficult to carry out one’s duty whether at home or work. Fasting most certainly has a lot of merits and spiritual benefits if observed properly.

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  28. I have fasted just a couple of times in my whole life. I guess fasting is a way to show devotion for many people. For many, it is a way to increase will power. As long as I am not forced into one..people can fast how much ever they want 🙂

    I agree with you on the point that fasting will not make one closer to god…I think good deeds and good thoughts will do that more than anything.

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    1. It is the faith that it is a religious duty that makes most people fast regardless of the effect on their health. Fasting is a cleansing thing if undertaken in moderation, but when young children forgo food in the name of fasts, I find it hard to digest. They could maybe undertake a symbolic fast if needed. I do fast on special occasions but have at least one meal even if it is only fruits and milk.

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  29. I just love the way you write – I was in splits by the time I finished reading.

    Wrt fasting itself, I think to each their own. As you rightly said, everyday religion/culture has its own “regimen” for fasting. Considering that, I think, it was done as much for physiological reasons as spiritual reasons. While from a spiritual POV, it is a question of adhering to a strict discipline / way of life, from a physiological standpoint I have read in several places that intermittent fasting is good for one’s health – in controlling weight, sugar levels etc. So after the heavy feast, I guess we needed the fasting 🙂

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    1. when our forefathers and mothers set down the rules for fasting, they sure had all the health and spiritual benefits in mind. For when done the right way at the right age, fasting can do wonders to one’s mental and physical health. But the way we do it today, gorging on special foods and admonishing those who refrain from observing fasts, it is a mere ritual which even harms one’s health. Hyperacidity, diabetes and such problems preclude going without food for any length of time. Why not just devote the time to prayers instead of cooking all the special foods, eh 😀

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      1. Agree with you 100%. That is why I neither cook special food nor fast 😉

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        1. fasting and eating are mutually exclusive, so how can one ‘eat’ while fasting? 😀

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  30. I am just like you or even worse, I only fast once a year on Karwa chauth. That fast also I am going to stop from this year, as it has been very tough to do from morning to night without even water. My husband gets very angry when he sees me suffer, and I feel why punish my body. I actually have a lot of problem with our customs and some of them have been eloquently put by you. Like, eating all kinds of fried stuff, drinking tea and milk, fruits and still calling it a fast! Also, the holier-than-thou attitude towards others who don’t fast and this not eating something on one day of the week. We also follow no egg no chicken on Thursdays only because it is a norm in my in laws house. Though, the logic of it fails me. Besides, we anyway eat non-veg once or twice a week, so one day of abstinence is quite stupid in my opinion. Luckily, both my mother when alive and my mil are people who do their own fasting but don’t enforce it on others. So, come festival, rain or sunshine, or pujas, no one in my family fasts. LIke you said, “bhookhe pet bhajan nahin hota.” For those who believe in this and do it, my total respect as long as they respect my right to not blindly do what they feel is right.

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    1. I had a very understanding MIL who never forced me to do any ritual once I expressed my reservations about them. So I am still in that phase, when I do what I feel is right and not what is believed to be right. Even when my DIL asks me how some festival needs to be celebrated or some vrat needs to be observed, I tell her, do it however it is convenient and right for you. There is no rule here. avoiding non-veg on certain days is something that has baffled me no end 😀 As for karva chauth, I have seen many men fast with their wives when their remonstrations go in vain. Some of these women who fast, expect everyone to be ‘understanding’ and let them relax when they have to come to work 🙂

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  31. Fasting isn’t a bad thing…whatever makes one happy, I guess.

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    1. Hey i didn’t mean to knock fasting per se, only when it seems illogical or taken to the extreme. Like i said, to each his/her own.

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