Like Buddhism, fasting is a very important part of Hinduism. How fasting is observed will differ from one person to another, depending on beliefs and customs. One person will have one way of fasting and someone else will have another means of fasting. My grandmother is currently a Buddhist nun. She used to eat meat long ago before going into vegetarianism. When she fasts, she abstains from eating meat.
For Hindus that live in the northern part of India, it’s common to fast on Thursday. Before breaking the fast which can be at night, they listen to a story.
To the Hindus of northern India, fasting is very important. But like Buddhism, fasting is a method to build discipline and mental fortitude asides from being apart of worship. In a sense, it teaches us to endure under all hardships such as lack of food and water. In a way, it’s logical that eating food gratifies our senses of hunger. Starving those senses means ascension in terms of Hinduism.
Fasting makes us ascend to a higher level of being as hunger is more primitive.
To satisfy that hunger is to allow ourselves to be pulled down to earthly or materialistic desires. Hinduism is also a faith of contemplation and thinking. When we’re hungry, our first instinct is to get something to eat. When we’re thirsty, the first instinct is to get something to drink. We don’t stop and think about why we need to eat and drink. Fasting causes us to think about what we’re doing.
Also, it shows that we cannot take it for granted. When we’re “full” we become “empty”. That was something that I have learned in life. When we fast, we learn something that applies to life in general. This is what Hinduism teaches its practitioners. It will keep us focused.
Hindus will fast on certain days of the week depending on what god or goddess that you choose. Remember that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. If you pay tribute to Hanuman, you fast on Tuesdays.
Hindus will also fast at festivals.
There is one festival where Hindus will fast for nine days. But when you fast, you can abstain from eating and drinking certain things. You can abstain from eating meat. You can abstain from drinking soda. You can abstain from eating cheese. How you fast depends on your wants and so forth. I don’t drink that much soda. In that case, I could fast from drinking soda.
Hindus can also fast for dietary reasons on top of religious reasons.
Health reasons are included as it gives you a way to cleanse your body of all impurities. In a sense, it helps your body become purified.
Fasting can also be used for social reasons. It’s not common for protestors to take up a hunger strike. Mahatma Gandhi one of the foremost religious leaders of the world let alone India used fasting as a way to make his movement very strong. On top of that, fasting is a way of fellowship which is also important in such civil and/or religious movements.
Overall, these reasons revolve around the obtainment of a higher being and mindset.