Fasting has always been an essential part of Indian tradition. It implies selfsacrifice and self-control. Food being one of the common weaknesses of man, abstaining from it at least for a short time is appreciable. In ancient India, saints and sages knew how to control their physical and mental self through fasting. This helped them attain purity of the mind, by which they developed divine powers. This sloka from the Yajurveda sings the glory of fasting. It says that mankind develops the ability for progressive living through fasts that serve as diksha or initiation. One moves from diksha to dakshina, i.e. success in one’s endeavours. Faith and devotion grow from this. And this is how one attains his/her goal in life.
Fasting implies that the observer should not compromise with his moral respo nsibilities and character even in difficult situations. In fact, fasting makes one bold enough to stick to one’s principles.
Stress and tension have become part of modern life.
To fight them and live in peace, one can observe self-purification, and fasting is the best way to do this.
l Various toxins in the food we eat make us lazy. They remove spiritual energy generated through prayers and medita tion. Fasting helps remove these toxins from our system.
Self-confidence, mind power, integrity, patience and positi ve thoughts are among the qu alities possessed by a person who observes fasting regular ly. Fasting also gives rest to the organs in the body. The practitioner is blessed with a harmonious and healthy body and an emotionally and spiritually balanced mind.
Each day in a week is assigned to different deities whose functions also vary. Therefore, fasting should be observed on particular days of the week for different purposes.
Those who suffer from eye or skin problems or are afflicted with severe heat may fast on Sundays. Blessings from the Sun God come to them by way of honour, fame and success apart from good health. One must pray to the Sun God and eat only once during the day while observing the fast. To please the deity, one must wear ruby.
Fasting on Mondays, the day of the Moon, is devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Fasting on this day helps one find a suitable marital partner.
Pearls and silver can be worn on this day to please the Moon.
Fasting on Tuesday, whose ruling planet is Mars, demands continual observance of the fast for 12 Tuesdays to overcome the malevolent effects of the planet. Hanuman is the deity to whom prayers are to be offered. Wearing red clothes and using red flowers will bring luck.
Planet Mercury is associated with fasting on Wednesdays.
Keep praying to Lord Shiva while observing fasting on this day. Wear emerald in gold to propitiate the planet.
Planet Jupiter can be propitiated by observing fast on Thursdays. Lord Shiva is to be worshipped on this day. Wear topaz in a gold ring on the finger and eat yellow pulses.
On Fridays, one can observe fasting meant for the planet Venus. We have food once on this day. A gem called mani in silver is used to please the planet Venus.
Apart from these, there are a variety of occasions when we fast. For instance, fasting on festival days and on days of religious importance, such as Shashti and Ekadasi impacts our spiritual and material life.
Practices and observances envisaged and designed by our forefathers have survived to this day for their practical and spiritual values. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 13 Dec. 2011
» Dr. Venganoor Balakrishnan is the author of Thaliyola, a book on Hindu beliefs and rituals.