Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There are so many festivals in India, almost as many as the number of Sundays in a year.
Karva chauth is one festival where women pray for their husband’s longevity, and there are stories associated with it. I don’t know much about these stories.
It seems that women were very powerful in ancient days. If they tell the sun not to set then it would not set. They said women were powerful to that extent. There are many such stories, and they are all inspiring stories to remind one of a higher cause. So, this is one such festival in India.
Fasting and prayers are somehow connected. In almost every religion and every tradition of the world they have connected fasting and prayer together.
When you fast you are not pleasing some god out there by your fasting. It simply helps to detox your body. When the body gets detoxified then thoughts become positive. When there are too many toxins in the body, and the pancreas, liver and intestine are all congested then your thoughts are all negative and unclear. So fasting is done to have that cleansing effect on your body, not to please a god.
Fasting also has some rules, but people don’t follow even the fasting rule properly. People think fasting means that they can eat certain things and cannot eat certain things. You can eat lots of nuts and fruits but not eat cooked food, or rice, or bread. This is not fasting.
Someday people eat boiled potatoes and sweets and say they are fasting. They are fooling themselves. And sometimes, some people who want to fast all day get up before sunrise and stuff themselves with food. Then they fast and as soon as the sun sets, again they stuff themselves. It is a very bad way of fasting.
Fasting has to happen scientifically. Fast with juice and water, some fruits so that the enzymes are generated in the body. The indigested food gets digested. It is very bad eating very late in night on fasting days because your digestive fire is not there to digest that food. So you should not do that.
People fast in an unscientific manner. Fasting should be rational. Almost in every tradition people fast this way – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus – they all should know the scientific way of fasting.
The Ayurvedic way of fasting is very clearly mentioned. Little bit of fruits, juices, water and lemon. And if your endurance is there then fast just on water, one or two days. This is what we need to educate people.
Even during the month of Ramadan, they fast whole day, the pitta rises, and in the evening they eat so much. This is wrong. In the evening when they eat, they should have salads, fruits, and something light; something that gives rest to the system.
Hindus do fasting during navratri, and they eat jalebis! They eat all the sweets, and boiled potatoes – that is starch! This is not the correct way, there should be only fruits and fruit juices.