My Experiments with Fasting

Zephyr, who writes here, is this absolutely amazing blogger whom I discovered thanks to Ratzz (take a bow Ratzz) and I love reading her…her posts are often humourous on topics with require serious thoughts and the way she puts them forth is something I love…her writing often reminds me of Suranga’s (I didnt add the ji, okie) writings …both have their lovely individualistic humourous way of looking at things which are of concern to the society and both put it forth in such a lovely manner that you cant but help think about it later….

Now Zephyr wrote a wonderful piece (I was in London so couldnt read it…catching up with the backlog now!) on feasting and fasting through festivals… 🙂
As I turned 29 last year, I realised I dont believe in fasting…and before I go ahead let me clarify here that I admire and respect people who have the discipline to fast…I really do..for me its one of the greatest tests of being a human…FASTING

When I was a kid, my mom never really was into letting me fast…in my class 6 and 7 I had girls in my class who used to fast on Tuesdays and Thrusdays..but my mom was never a big fan of letting kids fast..and then if you grow up in Gujarat, you have this festival called Gouri Vrath where you do pooja to Lord Shiva to get a good husband, etc etc

You did Goriyo for 5 years and then moved to doing the more difficult Vrat…Gujarati girls are known to start Goriyo from about 5 years onwards..so by the time they are 10, they are onto the more difficult form of the Vrat which is the actual Gouri Vrat which involves getting up at sunrise, and visiting a Shiv temple and doing pooja…

The vrat for 5 days involves eating no salt…so you can have dry fruits and fruits and milk…that mainly..some families allowed fried food like banana chips without salt or something in those lines…some days before the vrat, you sow lentils into a basket made of hay and then you do pooja of the grown lentils during Goriyo as well as take these grown lentils to the temple once you start off with the more difficult vrat…

I was adamant when I was in my class 4 or 5, that I wanted to do this..my mom wasnt too keen…for two reasons..one that I couldnt (still cant) sustain hunger…I would (still do) grow cranky, irritated and lashed out at anyone within 2 meters vicinity..and secondly this would involve buying a lot of dry fruits (I couldnt stay hungry remember) which were pretty expensive…(though ma never really told me the second reason…I realised that NOW! ya ya I am known in the circles to be a tubelight!)

anyways but I was adamant (I think the dry fruits had more to do with it..and also peer pressure upto a certain level..I mean if all the girls in the class are eating dry fruits and you open your dabba of idlis you do feel weird right!) and our maid was pretty enthu about it as well so she convinced ma to let me do it…appa said since his daughter was going to be on vrat so would he (lets face it appa, you were more interested in the dry fruits actually 😉 just like your daughter) and then ma just had to make rasam on day 2 and he said, may be I can just break the fast for one meal..see how much he loves me 😉

anyways to the surprise of my mom and many others, I completed 5  years after which I realised it just wasnt worth the effort…for me…I admit I was at awe at girls who continued all this in their class 10 and 12 and everything!

I couldnt and I just accepted that…

Post marriage, my MIL asked me to do Santoshi mata vrat on Fridays which I refused but settled to do the supposedly easier vaibhav lakshmi vrath which again didnt last too long because of the tiredness of travelling, managing a house, etc etc..and then I did Tuesday upvas for a while when R was suffering from asthma after she turned 1, but that again I realised was not my cup of tea

now at the age of 30, I have realised that some people can fast, and some people cant and I belong to the second category..

My MIL for example has been doing santoshi mata vrat for the past 27 years..yes I kid not..she doesnt eat anything on Fridays..and guess what I got married on a Friday..yes she didnt eat at her own son’s wedding..we tried to change the date of the wedding but she was adamant that her upvas doesnt really be a cause of concern…if I was as free with her as I am now, I would have put my foot down and disagreed to marry…my parents tried hard to change the date, but she was really adamant!

This is something which will hurt me all my life I think…I dont really think about it too much, but when I do, it does hurt

anyways, the whole idea of fasting on one day of the week is recommended even by some dieticians who say that its good for the body…

However, after trials and errors, I have to admit to myself that my body loves Food too much to let go of it…

Will I start fasting when I am older? I dont know..Maybe I will…but as of now today…I think I will just stick to ‘not fasting’

I think fasting is more a matter of mind than body..and somehow my mind is always on food when its not around if you know what I mean

I cant think of not eating…For me fasting means giving up on something very very dear to me..and knowing myself, I dont think I am capable of it….so currently fasts are a strict no no in my life…though may be 40 years down the line when I am a grand old lady trying to act smart, I will re-start it 😉

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52 Responses to My Experiments with Fasting

  1. summerscript says:

    “I think fasting is more a matter of mind than body..and somehow my mind is always on food when its not around if you know what I mean: – True
    I tried fasting (skipping just lunch on fridays). But I gave up too soon. The whole time during fasting I was thinking about food food and food. Evening I just run back to home and eat dinner at 630 itself. I felt I was not true to myself. I was not focussed. I didnot want to cheat.So I stopped.

  2. RS says:

    I did 5 yrs of one time fasting on tuesdays for my own health, and somehow it stopped after I got married. But I look at collegues here inthe office who fast thru out Navaraatri and then they did Karva Chauth on saturday without even drinking water and then they have to cook a feast before the pooja also – man! I also admire these women a lot – the ability to fast – though Im not very convinced about the reason to fast! 😦 Thats another reason that puts me off fasting…

    And about dieting – I tried the GM diet once but didnt find much weight loss – though the energy levels were higher! Maybe because I ate healthy and on time! where as hubby lost a couple Kilos…

    • R's Mom says:

      oh yaa…I have people in office who fast on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and what not…really really great yaar…i sure admire them 🙂

      GM diet – nah..it didnt work for me 🙂

  3. I like this post so much ‘cos I am so like this.
    I get cranky, irritated and what not even if my food is delayed by an hour, let alone being without food for one day! I haven’t even tried fasting to say whether I like it or not. And I don’t think I ever will try.
    I’ve never seen my mom fast but my paati is a bit of a ‘faster’ 😀 She doesn’t go without food on any given day but avoids a lot of foods on certain days. My MIL is like yours only. She had this ‘ekadesi’ on my Seemantham day and refused to eat anything even after a lot of insistence. Like you said, the scar remains and I will go on to remember it for ages together. 😦
    I don’t get this more bhakti equals less food concept. Amma would often say this – When you really want to think about God, your stomach should neither be completely full nor empty all together. When it is full, you’ll feel sleepy and overloaded and not think of God. When it is empty, you’ll feel hungry and think of food instead of thinking of God! 😀 Amen to those lines, I’d say!

  4. Pepper says:

    I don’t believe in fasting at all. I do believe I have the ability to stay without food for as long as I want though. I’ve lived on a sandwich for 2 days and would have survived even without it. But the whole concept of depriving my body of a basic necessity just to achieve some results doesn’t appeal to me.

    • R's Mom says:

      you toh Pepper….you do the impossible…eaten only one sandwich for TWO whole days…baap rey!

      I cant live without food..and waise bhi..your figure does show that you can live without food for ages!

  5. Tharani says:

    The only day when I fast is on, “Good friday” which is once a year.. That too I skip breakfast, eat bitter gourd for lunch and cross bun for dinner. So it is not exactly fasting 🙂
    Your MIL is a sweet heart 🙂

  6. Seema says:

    Good one RM. I too cannot fast. The thought of not-supposed-to-eat triggers my hunger and temptation like no other. I wanna write about this, specially my experience during the months of Ramzan when rest of the family is fasting and Abbas n I hog!

  7. Ashwathy says:

    Honestly speaking, I have not really warmed up to the concept of this fasting. Does it mean giving up something important so that you will get something important (from God, destiny) in return?? Sounds like bargaining, doesn’t it, when you really think about it?

    Fortunately my family has never really believed in this concept of fasting. We do have a south version of the karva chauth , albeit a milder one since eating salt and rice is the main restriction. So we can have any food that does not have either. Not so severe na.
    But when I asked my hubby whether it is required for me to do it, he said observe the fast only if you want to 🙂
    And I really don’t believe in it, so why bother. I don’t have to prove my love for him by being hungry.

    Just my thoughts on this.

    Having said that, food is my weakness and I cannot give it up. Ever. :mrgreen:

  8. Even fasting is not my cup of tea..I can stay without food for hrs on regular days but I don’t like the concept of giving up food for achieving something..never tried or did..I tell R that I got him with out any fasting, isn’t that a deal 🙂

  9. Bikram says:

    No offence to anyone.. But I am not muxh impressed with fast. You eat as much before daybreak and then eat after sunset.
    Now without showing off there are a lot of days atleast once a week or more where thongs get so busy that literally I dont eat till late nights…
    so this is also a fast…

    Go out of house about 6 and coming around misnight…
    I wont be ablw to do it knowingly.. And what makes me wonder is how can god be happy if we make ourself suffer.

    But as u say good luck to those who can…

    • R's Mom says:

      Of course what you do is a fast! and its great you manage!

      its just that some people do it for a religious belief..and people like me just cant fast 🙂

  10. Vidya says:

    I’m not a fasting person- specially in connection with any pooja/vrat 🙂 I believe eating in moderation is fine any day. Indulging occasionally is fine..

  11. The Bride says:

    I think fasting has its purposes – discipline, cleansing the body – if you can manage to do it. I object to it if only one gender is doing it though. I’m okay if women fast on certain days and men have other days. But if only women do it, I object.

    Why are you hurt about your MIL though? As long as she fasted quietly and didn’t act like some big martyr on the day, that’s her choice no?

    • R's Mom says:

      True let the men and women both fast…but then again the vrat that I am talking about is done only by girls

      I was hurt because we did try to change the date so much and it was HER son’s wedding rey..imagine not eating in that…no she didnt act like a big martyr or something..it just hurt me somehow…

  12. Smitha says:

    I can’t fast either 😦 Never tried to, either. My parents were proper liberals.. And my in-laws follow some stuff themselves, but have never asked me to. So I never really ended up fasting. I also get a migraine if I miss any meal, so I dont even take a chance.
    Plus, I can’t stay hungry – am obsessed with food too 😦 Husband, if he has a heavy meal can easily skip the next meal – I, on the other hand, no matter how heavy the previous meal was, still get hungry at the next meal time 🙂

    While I think it is great that people who can fast, fast, it is perfectly fine to let those who can’t be 🙂

  13. garima says:

    Fasting or not fasting is one’s own belief.
    I am most cranky when I am hungry.skipping single meal means acidity and vomits

    This year was my first karvachauth and I was sure i would skip it.
    MIL being sweetest person advised me to do only if i can else do not fast keeping health at stake..

    Somehow i was determined and completed the fast successfully ,cooked the required stuffs and did pooja (i never thought i could ever do so much,self praise u see :-)).I could do this fast coz i wanted it to.The feeling came from within.Had somebody forced me to do it i am sure i wud have not.
    I was asked to do fast on ‘Aohi Ashtmi’ (done at mil’s place for the goodwill of a son) which i politely declined as i see no sense in doing it now as i have no kids.Moreover i just cannot buy this concept of fasting only for son,why not for daughters (nyways dats a different issue)

    The belief comes from within it cannot and should not be forced by others.Wats the point of fasting and at the end of day land up sick in hospital.Fasting should be done if it gives someone peace of mind and satisfaction and not fast just to keep up some tradition.

    • R's Mom says:

      Firstly you did karva chauth..awesome babes..congrats..

      see if you want to do it by yourself…its great..as long as people dont force you..

      I loved your last line..fasting should be done if it gives someone peace of mind and satisfaction..so true..

      in mycase..it doesnt..so would rather not fast 🙂

  14. Sreetama says:

    I too don’t believe in fasting. I’ve never fasted till date, apart from 1/4 of the day on 2 days of the year, Ashtami during Durga Puja n Saraswati Puja, The rule is, you can’t eat untill you offer pushpanjali & they take place in the morning only. After the pushpanjali, we have lavish breakfast followed by lunch! 😀

    My grandmoms fast occasionally, my mom never did, so am I! We believe that if your work helps someone else, then you don’t really need to follow such things. And God would definitely not like us to suffer!

  15. VJ says:

    I can never fast… I get cranky, angry and will cry for no reason !!
    I don’t over eat but have to have every meal !!
    Fasting and me… Can’t see it happening at all.

  16. Scribby says:

    yeah yeah my body loves food too 🙂

    my domestic maid keeps coming up with some or the other vrat for every day and occasion and asks me if I do it or not and every time I tell her ‘boss don’t make me feel as if I’m doing something wrong by not following the vrats,huh!’

    but hats off to those who can fast…for religious cause or diet…I just can’t 🙂

  17. uma says:

    Hey RM, I wanted to congratulate you on winning the IHM blogoscar award. Wanted you to do so on your blog.
    will come back to comment on this post..

  18. uma says:

    I am not a great believer of fasting and totally agree with one of the commenter above whose mom said that you can think of god only when you have eaten in moderation. That said, I used to fast on Thursdays (eat only one meal a day, that is ) before I got married. But stopped after marriage. Selfish that I am, Kaam hogaya na..;-) But yes, health was also a reason. it is good to leave your stomach in peace once in a while..:-)

  19. anisnest says:

    Fasting – what do I say.. I did it once a week for a while yes that too very recently but gave up.. my fasting is eating fruits and drinking coffee all day and break the fast with temple’s prasad at night… As summerscript rightly pointed out in due course I shamefully felt that the prasad at temple attracted me more than the God.. I felt like cheating myself, cheating God… So, gave up and now neither going to the temple nor fasting… I am not in cross with God.. I am in cross with myself (the me who fooled self and god in the name of fast)

    • R's Mom says:

      Oh please…whats wrong to say that the prasad attracted you more…people like me and R go to the temple mainly to eat the prasad..isnt that a form of worship in itself!

  20. Zephyr says:

    That was a nice post – an honest one. And perhaps I am the only senior apart from Suranga who doesn’t fit in the mould. I firmly believe that one can’t find god on an empty stomach. Love you for your telling your MIL about your not being able to do the Santoshi ma vrat. You will be aghast if I tell you that I had not only refused to fast, but also undertake rituals that I could not believe in. My poor MIL! But I must tell you that she took it rather well. And this was three decades ago 🙂 Better be honest than a hypocrite, right?

    Thanks for linking me here, R’s Mom. I was wondering how so many people were coming to the Cybernag from your blog till I opened my mailbox and found your post there! 🙂

    • R's Mom says:

      you refused…that too three decades back..baap rey…you sure had guts 😉

      Hey you know I am a big fan of your writing..so what thanks and all…its a post everyone should read…

  21. I fast too. When I feel lazy to cook/ get up almost in the afternoon on sundays and skip meals sometimes, I er, convert that to a “fast” and announce to the world that I fasted 😛 My mom is amazed that it doesn’t rain mud on me. But I do get more than my fair share of crow shit on my person, so I think the Gods get their vengeance too 😀

  22. Pingback: To fast or not to fast « Anecdotes of Two-riffic Twins

  23. Pingback: Religion, rituals and rules « Sugar and Spice

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