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In many religions and doctrines in world, fasting is upheld as a great act of worship and a high sense of spiritual endeavor through which spiritual ecstasy is ascertained.  Scriptures of divine religions such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism, there are a texts that one way or the other encourage and exhort adherents towards fasting, even though these scriptures have lost their divine recognition with the dawn of the final message of Allah to mankind (Qur’an), some followers of these scriptures still fast as a mere moral aptitude and not as a religious  obligation as found in Islam and practice by Muslims in the month of Ramadan.

 

Other religious dogmas that upheld fasting is the Hindu religion. In the Hindu religion, fasting is not an obligation, but a moral and spiritual act where the aim is to purify the body and mind and acquire divine grace. There are different forms of fasting which are more or less strict, more or less difficult to follow and which vary depending on personal, family and community beliefs.

 

According to some Hindu religious sources, fasting does not necessarily involve complete abstinence from food, water and other material nourishment as in Islam, but suffices it for one to abstain from one meal in a day. Sometimes, it is sufficient to eliminate certain types of food and replace them by others, without restricting the quantity. Meat eaters, for example, may settle for a strictly vegetarian dish. Vegetarians often eliminate rice, wheat, barley and lentils and replace them with potatoes. It is even possible to snack on sweets throughout the day. What is more, these restrictions can also be a way of varying the daily diet and trying new food. A day of fasting can even be a promise of treats. Modaks for example, sweet dumplings made from coconut and covered with rice flour, are prepared days of fasting which involve worshipping the god Ganesh.

 

Concerning the period of fasting, there are several of such periods in Hinduism. The most commonly observed fast, Ekadashi, is respected approximately twice a month, on the eleventh day of each ascending and descending moon. The celebration at the beginning of the year, in honor of Shiva, is another important occasion. During the months of July and August, many Hindus adopt a vegetarian diet and fast on Mondays and Saturdays until the evening. Many Hindu women fast on Mondays in order to have a good husband.

 

The purpose of fasting in Hinduism is basically to achieve a peaceful state of mental and spiritual wellbeing with the Hindu gods. It can also be prescribed as punishment as mentioned by Manu that:

 

 

 “If a student remains asleep after the sunrise, he shall fast during the next day muttering the Savitri chant. If a person eats food from forbidden people he has to observe fast for three days. He prescribed three days fasting for minor thefts also. These punishments suggest that fasting was considered a purifier and remover of sins.” (Manu: http://www.hinduwebsite.com)

 

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