Fasting is a very common ritual which we follow to attain spiritual enlightenment. Fasting on the holy days is a noble and effective exercise which is undertaken by the Hindus. In fact, fasting is an auspicious act which should be done in a proper and appropriate manner. If it is not performed properly, it may not be effective and may cause problems. Fasting carries a very special place in Hindu ritual and there is a significance of types of fasting.
Three Types of Fast (Based on Purpose):
The names of 700 vratas are mentioned in the book of Hemadi. The great Sanskrit scholar Gopinath Kaviraj has mentioned 1,622 vrats in his Shabdkosh. Broadly speaking, there are 3 types of fasting based on the purpose.
Nitya Vrat – In this there is an emphasis on the worship of God and good conduct like speaking truth, staying pure and controlling the senses.
Naimittik Vrat – This vrata is for repentance of bad karma or getting free of your sorrows
Kamya Vrat – This vrat is for fulfilling any wish or desire like to beget child, and to become more prosperous and other reasons too.
The Annual Cycle Of Vrats
1) Weekly – Fast once a week. Best method of fasting.
2) Fortnightly Fast- There is two fortnights in Hindu time scale method. The important days to fast are during Chaturthi, Ekadashi, Trayodashi and Purnima.
3) Three-Monthly Fast – The prominent fast in this category is the Navratri fast. Fasting on these nine days can remove all your sorrows.
4) Six-Monthly Fast – This occurs on Chaitra month Navaratri is called Greater Navratri and Ashwin month Navratri is called Smaller Navratri.
5) Yearly Fast – This is taken under the Shravan month. As per tradition, people are required to fast during the entire month of Shravan.
Different Kinds of Fast (As per their Nature):
9) Saptahik Upvas
10) Laghu Upvas
11) Kathor Upvas
12) Toote Upvas
13) Deergh Upvas
Prat Upvas: In this no breakfast is taken in the morning
Adhopvas: This is the fast of the evening. In this people eat only once a day.
Ekaharopvas: In this only one type of food is eaten.
Rasopvas: In this no cereal is consumed and fruits too. Only juicy fruits and vegetable juice is consumed. Milk is also not allowed.
Falopvas: Only Juicy fruits are consumed.
Dughdopvas: Only milk is consumed during this fasting.
Takropvas: In this fast ghee and sour things are avoided. This vrat can be followed for two months at a time.
Purnopvas: Not to eat anything just to stay clean on the fresh water.
Saptahik Upvas: If Purnopvas done weekly it is called as Upvas.
Laghu Upvas: When the Purnopvas is carried out for 3 to 7 days, it is called Laghu Upvas.
Kathor Upvas: This upvas is very suitable for people who are suffering from a difficult disease.
Toote Upvas: Here we are supposed to carry out Purnopvas for 2 to 7 days. Then light natural food is eaten for few days and again fasting for some more days.
Deergh Upvas: This is done for number of days. The days are pre-predicted and the number of days may range from 21 to around 50 to 60. This fast can end after body is detoxified.