What Hinduism teaches about fasting

  • 07 May 2019
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Fasting is an integral part of Hinduism. It is used to express gratitude to a deity or to seek a resolution to an ongoing problem. By depriving the body of food, it is thought that sins accumulated prior to the fast are washed away and the body is cleansed.

1. According to the day and the deity associated with it

In Hinduism, each day of the week is dedicated to a specific God/Goddess. Even the month and year are tied to certain deities.

Monday – Lord Shiva
Tuesday – Lord Ganesh, Durga, Kali and Hanuman
Wednesday – Lord Vithal (incarnation of Lord Krishna)
Thursday – Lord Vishnu
Friday – Mahalakshmi, Santhosi Ma, Annapuraneshwari and Durga
Saturday – Lord Hanuman, Shani
Sunday – Lord Surya

2. As an Ayurvedic treatment

Ayurveda encourages fasting once a week for health purposes. It should be done from morning to afternoon and no food is allowed during that period. Water, however, is an exception. In the afternoon, only a whole fruit or fruit juice is consumed. This is to ensure the body has enough energy throughout the day. The breaking of the fast should be done after sunset. It is advisable to fast for 12 to 24 hours.

To break a fast, Ayurveda encourages eating light food and nothing heavy, so eating vegetables and having soups is advisable.

3. Spiritual reasons behind fasting:

Hinduism believes that fasting takes away a devotee's sins. Since it is believed that the body suffers when it is denied food, it is a punishment unto itself. This is seen as a penance for the devotee's accumulated sins. Since each day is associated with a deity, fasting will strengthen the relationship between the person fasting and that deity.

If a person seeks guidance from an astrologer, they would also the fasting to be done on a particular day, depending on the nature of the problem.

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