Fasting and prayer in Hinduism
Didn’t those go out of style times ago?” The woman who said this to me was a holy woman, a woman who had been in the church all her life, and a woman committed on conforming the Lord. She knew her Bible. She was very solemn in her questions.
Yet for some reason, she had concluded — at least subconsciously — that fasting and prayer were no longer intended for believers in today’s world.The truth is, fasting and prayer are for today! In fact, now more than ever!
Fasting and Prayer
The amalgamation of fasting and praying is not a fad or a novelty tactic to spiritual discipline. Fasting and praying are not part of a human-engineered method or plan.
They are not the means to manipulate a situation or to create a circumstance. Fasting and praying are Bible-based disciplines that are appropriate for all believers of all ages throughout all centuries in all parts of the world.
Through the years, I have learned that many people in the church have never been taught about fasting and prayer, and many have therefore never fasted and prayed. As a result, they don’t know why fasting and praying are important, what the Bible teaches about fasting, or how to fast.
To many, fasting sounds like drudgery — or a form of religious works. To others, fasting sounds extremely difficult. People tend to stand in awe at reports of those who have fasted for several weeks. When I hear about such fasts, I no doubt think what they think: If I fasted that long, I’d die! I couldn’t possibly do that!
A fast can be as short as one meal. Neither do I advocate fasting and praying for the mere sake of saying with self-righteousness, “I have fasted and prayed about this.” I do not advocate fasting so that the hungry in a foreign nation might have the food you would have eaten that day — which is highly unlikely.
Experts do not advocate fasting apart from prayer. Thursday is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Brihaspati, the guru of gods. Hence, this day is called Vrihaspativar, after the apportioned god. Thursday is also popularly known as Guruvar. Devotees listen to devotional songs, such as ” Om Jai Jagadish Hare ” dedicated to Lord Vishnu on this day.
Devotees adorn yellow colored clothes and offer yellow flowers to propitiate god Vishnu and Vrihaspati. They fast throughout the day and consume food only once which consists of ‘chana daal’ (Bengal Gram) and ‘ghee’ (clarified butter).
The food color used is yellow. Many offer banana or plantain to god. In Bengal, they worship goddess Lakshmi and elsewhere, people also visit Hanuman temples on Thursdays. Through ‘pujas’ (worship) and ‘vrats’ (fast) on Thursdays, it is believed, devotees are blessed with wealth, success, fame, and happiness.
The popular myth is that Lord Vishnu once appears before a devout Hindu disguised as a mendicant to test the devotee on a Thursday. Some believe it was Lord Vrihaspati. At first the devotee neglects his duties towards the holy man and denies him alms and is lethargic but later when he realizes his mistake, he observes a ritual fast on Thursdays and appeases the gods.
Color & Gem
Yellow is the color of the day and the preferred gems are Sapphire and Pokhraj.
The planet Jupiter (Vrihaspati) rules Thursday.
Especially on Thursday
Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as “remarkable”.
Criticised by Nutritionists
Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection.
Beneficial for People
Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy.
It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases.
The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch” which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.
What Experts Says
“It gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California.
So Scientists Says..
During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.
Do you Fast?
With time many questions have been aroused. But still Science is not able to answer many questions. So the fact remains we cannot question the origin of many customs. So like I fast do you also do it? Share your views in comments section.