Keeping a fast is an integral part of the Indian culture and tradition. It basically connotes willingly abstaining oneself from eating certain or any kind of food, drink or both. It is known as Vrat in Indian households. The period of fasting also varies i.e. it could be partial or prolong for 24 hours. Some people of certain Indian religious sects like the Jains are known to keep a fast for weeks at a stretch, though this type of religious fasting has now been banned in India. Though people in India may keep a fast for varied reasons, the most important ones pertain to religion and spiritual aspects.
There are mentions about fasting in many Indian religious scriptures.
As per most Hindu sacred books like the Bhagwad Gita and others, fasting
helps create an attunement with the Absolute by establishing a
harmonious relationship between the body and the soul. One is expected
to live piously, give charity and refrain from eating non-vegetarian
food whenever observing fast for a spiritual or religious purpose in
India. Our religious scriptures state fasting is not only a part of
worship, but a great instrument for inculcating self-discipline too.
Apart from certain Hindu festivals like Shivratri, Karva Chauth and so
on, there are specific days on which Indians keep fast from varied
reasons. For instance, people fast on Tuesdays for Lord Hanuman, the
Indian monkey God. On Fridays, the devotees of the Goddess Santoshi Mata
abstain from taking anything citric. There is also another type of
fasting when people forego taking all cereals and eat only fruits. Such
fasting is called Phalahar. However, there are many others who keep a
fast solely for maintaining good health.
People also fast these days for health reasons because fasting helps in
the detoxification of the body. Everyone wants to look good and fit
these days. As such, you will find many youngsters in India fasting. In
medical context, fasting refers to the state achieved after digestion of
a meal. A number of metabolic adjustments occur during fasting and many
medical diagnostic tests are standardized to fasting conditions. Thus
fasting has both religious and medical significance in India.