Fasting... or License To Gluttony?

One thing I never understood about Indian culture is their usage of the term "fasting".

Now as far as my knowledge of the English language goes, "fasting" pertains to "abstaining from something, usually eating, for religious/medical purposes". So shouldn't this translate as "the day we fast, we refrain from eating as much as possible"? But that's not exactly what I see around me!

Several years ago, my sister and I started keeping a fast on Thursdays. And since we come from an extremely non-religious background, we had no idea what we were allowed to eat that day. Kind relatives enlightened us that apart from the one meal of items made from "besan", we could eat "falahar" throughout the day. We figured "falahar" would stand for "fal" (fruits), but, we were so wrong! Check out some of these dishes made of potatoes that are considered as a part of "falahar" diet!

Aloo Tikki

Potato Finger Chips

Potato Chips

Potato Halwa
(Loaded with fat!)

Oh and "besan" items also included "besan ke laddu" you know... another calorie-filled recipe!

My sister and I made the "Aloo Tikki" and the "Potato Finger Chips" the very first day of our fasting, but that was about it! So much potato and oil was not even a part of our normal diet! So we were simply loathe to consume all those extra calories in the name of a fast! We decided we'd rather not fast instead, than subject our bodies to such gluttony!

Fresh fruits it was for us then, along with one meal of "besan ka cheela" and curd.

I mean the whole point of including "fasting" in religious scriptures was to provide an excuse to let our bodies rest for a day. The day we fast, we don't take any non-vegetarian food or eggs or junk food (like cakes, pastries, burgers, cola drinks) or even onion and garlic -- all food items which require a lot of effort on the part of our digestive systems. But if we switch to consuming fried stuff and sweets instead, the entire purpose of keeping a fast is lost, don't you think? Where's the rest for the body's digestive system? Where's the detoxification happening?

Huhhh! Weird really! At least my Marwari business acumen refuses to see anything of value in such a type of fasting! I'd rather use the day as an excuse to eat a lot of fruits instead, which I'm normally too lazy to go out and buy!

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