Fasting observed in almost all religion. In India, people do fast for both material and spiritual reason. Indians, often, do fast to please the Almighty. Some fasts are a day long affair while some others go for a week or a month. Interestingly, people celebrate the longer fast as a festival. There is no single month passing by without a festival; sometimes, several festivals fall in a month, especially during rainy season. Medical science also finds the benefits of fasting beyond the spiritual and religious reasons.
Devotees do fasting for both material and spiritual accomplishment. Material inclination finds value among the young mass, while the old do fasting for self-realization (Moksha). Indians, often, observe fasting to please the Almighty. The fasting duration varies ranging from a full day to one month-long. Interestingly, people celebrate the longer fast as a festival. There is no single month passing by without a festival; sometimes, several festivals fall in a month. Fasting in Sanskrit called Upavasa, derived from two syllables ‘Upa’ means near and ‘Vaasa’ means to stay. So, fasting implies staying close to the divine. The fasting as a religious belief has both material and spiritual connotation. A special day marked for a God either as a birthday or an auspicious day symbolizing the victory of good over the evil. On a special day, people do fasting and Puja to the Lord; on some occasion, the devotees invoke divine chants performing Yagnya and Naama Sankirtana. Effectively, it has now become the practice dedicating a special day with fasting to please a deity of choice and belief, for fulfilling a wish. Fasting has several classification ranging from a full day fast (24-hours) without any Ahara (food) to a 12-hours fast followed by breaking the fast with Prasad (the fruits offered to the Deity). People undergo the pains of fasting only to find the wishes fulfilled by the God. The sole purpose of fasting remains the fasting to please the Almighty and hence attached to the material want, mostly found among the younger breeds.
Fasting as a religious belief also has a spiritual connotation. Medical science also finds the benefits of fasting beyond the spiritual and religious reasons. Certain medical intervention presupposes the patient to stay in fasting. The theory that supports linking spirituality to science is physical and mental well-being. Fasting helps in releasing the toxins from the body, and it becomes very active if the person survives with water alone for the entire duration. In the process, the body and mind get energized, as a healthy mind presupposes a healthy body. The spiritual practice in ancient India believes in the theory that our mental makeup is partly dependent on the kind of food we usually take. The food, hence, classifies as Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic corresponding to a similar mental state. Sattvic foods are fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Rajasic foods are hot and Spicy. Tamasic foods are animal foods which cause intoxication. In ancient India, people engage in fasting and selectively choose intake for controlling the desire over the senses. Monks live through several centuries entirely depending on fruits and meditation. They believe that self-realization or God-realization is possible by achieving the union between the body, mind, and the soul.
Citing the Article
Saidatt Senapaty (4th April 2016), “Spiritual Awakening with Fasting,”