Fasting is the Act of Saying No to Physical RequirementsAccording to Hinduism fasting is the act of saying no to the physical requirements of the body in order to attain spiritual power. There are lot of scriptures which state that on fasting we get accustomed to some values or principle and thereby leading to a mutual harmonious frequency of the body and the soul. Thus fasting helps in the good being of an individual and also it maintains both the physical and spiritual requirements of the human being. In Sanskrit fasting is known as Upavaasa where upa means "near" and vaasa means "to stay" which indicates staying in close proximity to the God spiritually. It is also commonly known as Vrat.Fasting has become an essential constituent of Indian tradition during which a person voluntarily holds back himself or herself from eating any particular kind of food or no food at all for a specific period of time.
Each Day of the Week is Related to Planetary Constellations-Fasting at some times is even undertaken for a prolonged period of time which may be a week or more like the Muslims who fast during the month of Ramadan. In Hinduism each day of the week is related to planetary constellations and devoted to a certain deity. Fasting depends upon each individual and how strong they are at it. However today the importance of fasting is getting vanished as man himself is not in too close to his inner being for he is behind the materialistic world. But even now when we look back at the Vedas and Shastras it indicates how people during the ancient period purified both the mundane and spiritual life of them. Our ancestors have strictly adhered to this concept of fasting which is one main reason why in those days they led a healthy life linked with nature. The systems they formulated came from their insight and enabled them to raise their consciousness into the higher realms. Fasting not only helps us to attain spirituality in life but also helps in making the mind calm and serene which according to the science of Yoga is known as the sattvic element. During this period of sattvic moment of fasting our mind is open to receptiveness and at such times it is good to worship certain deities. In this state of fasting we attain the param tapa, or supreme austerity.
Factors Put Forward by the Vedas and Shastras
-The factors put forward by the Vedas and Shastras help in knowing man's biological rhythms with the cycle of nature and this can be very clearly explained by the different phases of the moon. At the time of a full moon there are very high tides in the ocean whereas on a dark moon the tides stand completely ebbed. The systems of fasting are based on the different stages of the moon's waxing and waning. Ekadasi is said to be one of the important day to observe fasting and it falls on the eleventh day of the fortnight. Apart from religious and spiritual significance fasting on Ekadasi also act as a preventive medicine. Maximum fasting is done during this period for during this period the weather will aid in indigestion and also the quality of the food is likely to be degenerative. Apart from the Hindus the people from the Islamic religion also follow fasting during the monsoon period where they abstain themselves from food and drinks during daylight. Thus each individual should fit himself/herself according to the conditions of the climate in which he or she lives. Sometime people do not add salt to their food on specific days and this can be judged from our common sense for the fact that excess salt or sodium leads to hypertension or elevation of blood pressure.
Fasting is Not Only a Part of Worship- However, fasting is not only a part of worship, but a great instrument for self-discipline too. There is a popular quote by Luqman which states, "When the stomach is full, the intellect begins to sleep. Wisdom becomes mute and the parts of the body restrains from acts of righteousness." Fasting is quite common among the Hindus at the time of festivals like Navaratri, Shivratri and Karwa Chauth. During Navarathri and Durga Pooja people fast for nine days. From the science of Ayurveda the main reason for the cause any disease is the accumulation of toxic materials in the digestive system, so it has to be flushed out regularly to maintain a healthy body. Our body is composed of nearly 80% of liquid and 20% of solid and this fluid content is in turn affected by the gravitational force of the moon which leads to emotional imbalances in the body like agitation, vehement and tension. At such times fasting acts as an antidote thereby reducing the acid content in the body and helps in restoring their ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner. By fasting, the digestive organs get rest and all body mechanisms are cleansed and corrected. At the time of fasting it is advisable to have warm lemon juice for it prevents flatulence. The significance of fasting on specific days keeps varying.
Sundays Fasting is Observed for the Lord Sun- Usually on Sundays fasting is observed for the Lord Sun or Surya and fasting on this days helps in achieving one's desire or wish. For some reason people who are affected with skin diseases observe the Sunday fasting to get rid of it. The color of Sunday fasting is red and so red flowers are used for worship and red tilak is applied on the forehead.
Devotees of Lord Shiva fast on Mondays and the fasting begins at sunrise and finishes off by the sunset. On this day usually unmarried girls worship Lord Shiva and fast to get good husbands whereas the married women worship for the betterment of their husbands, their health and wealth. The fasting on Mondays in the month of Shravan is considered even more auspicious.
Fasting on Wednesday is Again Dedicated to Lord Shiva
-Fasting on Wednesday is again dedicated to Lord Shiva and the planet Mercury where both the husband and wife fast together for a happy and prosperous married life. Again on a Wednesday fasting, only one meal is taken preferably in the afternoon. Fasting on Thursday is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the people worship this God on this specific day for a prosperous life and richness. Again only one meal is taken on this day of fasting and generally salt is not added to the food. The color of fasting for Thursday is yellow and so mostly food which has the tinge of yellow is preferably liked and also banana is not eaten. Fasting on Friday is dedicated to the God of Wealth Mahalakshmi, Goddess Santhoshi and the planet Shukra or Venus. Fasting in the name of Goddess Lakshmi is considered highly auspicious by the women and at the end of fasting at the sunset it is a must to have one milk -based sweet. Also fasting in the name of Shukra is believed to give the devotees material wealth and joy. Saturday is generally dedicated to the planet Saturn and people fast and worship the God of Saturn mainly to avoid the ill -effects caused by the same.