# Day 157 (The ‘feasting and fasting’ package)

Come September and with the Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations on the fourth day of the first fortnight in the lunar month of Bhadrapada, the festive season in our country officially begins. It lasts through the months of September, October and sometimes even November or till Diwali and its associated festivities. They are considered auspicious months; the weather is benign in most parts of the country; innumerable weddings are slated during this time; economic activity suddenly picks up and markets are flooded with offers from new clothes and household stuff to cars, two-wheelers and even new homes. There is a general air of festivity and along with the celebrations come a lot of fasts! In fact, fasting and feasting come as a package deal in many cultures and religions, and our country probably leads all in this field.
Innumerable stories fill the pages of our ancient mythological and historical texts about the spiritual benefits of fasting. They say during his quest for enlightenment, Buddha had fasted stringently for long periods of time. Almost all sages of yore undertook their ’tapasya’ (or penance) by meditating without eating for days, sometimes even years. More recently Gandhiji made fasting a means towards many ends~for spiritual evolution, for improving physical health, and more innovatively even as a form of protest. Almost all of us carry childhood memories of family elders fasting on various religious occasions. Many of these fasting traditions continue and there are as many ways of fasting as there are households in India! Some fast by partaking nothing, not even a sip of water; others follow strict food intake regimes where only select food groups are allowed; and still others allow for consuming fruits and high energy foods like sago and potato.
The question that is often raised is, that apart from the religious mumbo jumbo that surrounds them, do fasts really have any significance? The spiritual line of thought says it is a means of practising self-control. The pro-health principle says fasts influence a person’s health in the way that they provide the digestive system a much needed break from all the gluttony we indulge in (maybe thats why so many of them are built into the festive-feasting season?!). Around the world, folk wisdom through the ages has advocated fasting as a cure for fevers and other ailments. Today in our hectic city lives where religion or even spirituality is never a consideration, the prime motivation for fasting is weight loss!! And so the fasting traditions come to us repackaged as ‘detox diets’! Some recent animal studies even claim that calorie control through fasting can increase life span. The same studies also show that sudden and severe fasting can cause serious health problems. As usual the truth lies somewhere in between…in feasting or in fasting (as in so many other issues in life!) moderation remains the key!!

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About sunsur81

A gatherer of thoughts...exploring myths,metaphors and expressions of life...
This entry was posted in 365 Days Blog-roll, Indian Accents, Matters of Faith and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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