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Spirituality

Updated on: Saturday, October 30, 2021, 07:14 AM IST

Guiding Light: Fast before you feast!

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As we approach Diwali, we look forward to feasting on the sweets and savouries that will be consumed in copious amounts! Food is such a deeply ingrained impression; one whiff of that biryani can yank you out of your seat in the midst of work or that engrossing movie and drag you to the kitchen, following your nose obediently. It is this instinct that makes fasting so difficult. Still, scientific research has shown the health benefits of fasting, ranging from a decrease in age-related ailments, aiding optimal blood sugar levels and reducing neural degeneration. Of course, it also keeps those pesky pounds away.

Ekadashi fasting is a great way to dip your toes into fasting. There are 24 Ekadashi’s in a year, two each in every lunar month, the eleventh day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing moon) and the Krishna Paksha (waning moon). We are nearly 70 per cent water, and therefore the moon’s phases impact the human body, much like they do the oceanic tides. The ancient science of Ayurveda attributes physical and mental wellness to fasting on these two days and their correspondence to the phase of the moon.

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Ekadashi has a great significance for spiritual seekers, especially those who follow the Vaishnava tradition, which has a story corresponding to every Ekadashi, highlighting the importance of fasting on each one of them. Free from the worry of planning your meals on the day, seekers dedicate the time to remembering the lord, often through chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra on a japa mala.

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The benefits of fasting are also endorsed by several other traditions like Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, amongst others. Buddhist monks practising the rules of Vinaya don’t eat after noon, especially during periods of intense meditation. Islam also prescribes fasting to be able to get closer to the divine, where those able to fast observe Roza during the holy month of Ramadan. Christianity has the concept of Lent to commemorate the 40 days that Christ spent fasting in the desert.

We live in an age of instant gratification, where everything is a tap or a click away. Our minds are overloaded with the temptation of the latest offers on everything from food to apparel. Fasting is a great way to exercise self-control and reign your mind in, rather than pandering to its every desire. So, if you feel up to the challenge, mark November 1 in your diaries, for Rama Ekadashi is a great way to embark on your fasting journey and take control of your destiny.

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Published on: Saturday, October 30, 2021, 07:14 AM IST
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