In technical terms, fasting is the willful refrainment from eating and sometimes drinking. In Hinduism, fasting is a moral and spiritual act where the aim is to purify the mind and body and achieve freedom from the cycle of eating. It is a way of connecting with Bhagwan (god) and cleansing the body and soul. Each day of the week is devoted to one or more of the deities. I am writing this today not to explore the health benefits of fasting as it is already available to read online. The science has already proved that fasting is a practice that has been associated with a wide array of potential health benefits, including weight loss, as well as improved blood sugar control, heart health, brain function, and cancer prevention (health line website). I am writing this to push my young readers to fast at least one day a week. I am writing this to help you get closer to your spiritual self, Bhagwan (God), and learn the art of willful refrainment (an essential life lesson). Let’s begin.
Why do Hindus Fast?
Devout Hindus usually observe fasting (Vrat) for the achievement of an oath. It is not meant for worldly gains, but harmony and peace within. As per Hindu history, each day of the week is devote to one or more Hindu Bhagwans (gods. Upvas (Vrat) starts with the sunrise and ends at sunset. Every fasting has its own procedures and importance. In this article, we will explore 7 Bhagwans, 7 Days of the Week, and a chance for you to choose 1 of those seven days to begin fasting from next week onwards.
Monday is dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva and Maa Parvati. Bhagwan Ganesha, their son, is revered at the start of the worship. You can listen to devotional Shiva Bhajans while fasting on Monday. You can wear white on Mondays, as Bhagwan Shiva is associated with the Moon (Chandra)
The Somvar Vrat, or Monday fast, is kept from sunrise to sunset, broken after evening Shiva Pooja. Do this, and Bhagwan Shiva’ll grant you wisdom.
Tuesday is dedicated to the deity Bhagwan Hanuman and Mars (Mangal). You must listen to Hanuman Chalisa on this day. This fast will help you in seeking Hanuman ji’s help in warding off evil and overcoming obstacles placed in your way. After sundown, the fast is broken by a meal consisting only of wheat and jaggery. Try wearing red.
Wednesday is dedicated to Bhagwan Krishna annd Vithal, an incarnation of Krishna. The day is associated with Bud (Mercury). Listen to melodious Krishna Bhajans on this day. You can wear green perhaps.
Thursday (Vrihaspativar or Guruvar)
Thursday is dedicated to Bhagwan Vishnu and Brihaspati, the guru of gods. Vishnu’s planet is Jupiter. This fast has historically helped obtain success, wealth, happiness, and fame. Yellow is Vishnu’s traditional color. When the fast is broken after sundown, the meal consists of yellow foods such as ghee and chana daal (Bengal Gram).
Friday is devoted to Maa Shakti, the mother goddess associated with the planet Venus; Maa Kali and Maa Durga also are worshipped. You can perform Durga Aarti, Kali Aarti, and Santoshi Mata Aarti on this day. Eat only a single meal after sunset and honor Maa Shakti. Since white is the color associated with Shakti, the evening meal consists of white foods such as kheer or payasam.
Saturday is dedicated to the fearful god Shani, who is associated with the planet Saturn. In Hindu history, Shani is a hunter who brings bad luck. You can fast from sunrise to sunset, and seek protection from Shani’s ill will, illnesses, and other misfortunes. After sundown, you can break the fast by eating food prepared using black sesame oil or black gram (beans) and cooked without salt.
Sunday is dedicated to Bhagwan Surya or Suryanarayana, the sun god. You can fast on this day and expect help from the Sun himself. Take a ritual bath in the morning, and eat after sunset. Avoid oil/fried food. You can make some donations on Sundays as well. On Sundays, wear red/saffron and apply a dot of red sandalwood paste on your forehead.
7 Days and 7 Options, doable, right? Choose one and start. It is not hard to skip a meal for a day every week, from morning to sunset. You will be spiritually awakened by listening to Bhajans and breaking free from everyday routines. You can preserve history by doing that and help the next generation understand the importance of certain rituals.