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Vrat & Upavas

Hindu Vrats

Like many other religions, Vrata is also practiced and followed in Hinduism. In the Hindu faith, Vrata is not an obligation but rather a spiritual and righteous act in which the goal is to cleanse the mind and body and attain divine grace. Many different types of Vrata tend to be more or less difficult to follow, and are based on family, personal and communal beliefs.

Vrata is a Sanskrit word that translates to "vow determination, resolve, devotion" which refers to holy observances, such as the practice of fasting and pilgrimage that is found in Indian religious traditions like Jainism as well as Hinduism. It's usually accompanied by prayers to seek happiness and health for loved family members.

What are Vrats?

In Hinduism, Vrata (upavas) has a huge significance in rituals and spiritual practices. Upavasam (Vrata) constitute an integral part of Upasana (worship). It was practiced as an exercise in austerity to master self-control and generate body heat that was believed to aid in self-purification and the sublimation of sexual energies in the physical light spiritual vitality along with intellectual brilliance. Let's understand why people follow this spiritual belief:

Students: The students of Vedas were taught Vrata to improve their education and self-control.

Households: Households used it to proclaim their faith and dedication to gods, and renouncers made use of it to gain control over their bodies and minds.

Widows: Widows practice preventing having the same fate with future births.

Unmarried women: Women who are single use this practice to get good husbands.

Married women: When it comes to married women, they use it to get children, safeguard their families, or protect their marriage.

As it is a sacrifice offering and an act of self-denial, it's good Karma. Additionally, because it is a means of self-purification, it also serves as a sacrifice. Apart from instilling discipline and commitment and easing our bodies, it also prepares us for trials of the spiritual world.

Through regular Vrata, you gain control over one's mind and body.

The History of Vrats

Before creating man, God set up an ethical code for man. This code is known as"the Apourusheya(Divine) Vedas'. The practice of following the Dharmaas as per the varna(class) following the guidelines outlined according to the Vedasnot stops sadness from birth to death and confers happiness. Indeed, happiness is not the only thing, yet we expect to attain it.

However, the design of Dharma is that, while striving to achieve that false joy, one slowly loses interest in this happiness and becomes a legitimate candidate of Moksha (Final Liberation). God's goal in establishing Dharma Samhita (Code of Righteous behavior) was to ensure that man eventually attained Moksha despite enjoying the world's happiness.

Hence the third chapter of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita is referred to as "Karmayog '' (Path of Action). Engaging in Dharma without any expectations is Karmayog. The Dharma does not require us to do sakam Bhakti (Devotion with expectations).

In time, the fundamental concept for Dharma in human beings experienced an erosion of the concept, which led to the man's moral lapses day-to-day and marked the emergence of the vrats.

The first step in religious conduct or worship: The desires of those in authority or power must be accepted as the norm by the rest of the population. The faith-based belief that God has given us specific guidelines to us and for all living creatures. These rules or obligations, observed over an extended period, develop the character of traditions or customs.

When people begin to believe that the acts prescribed by God must be compelled to be executed', the acts are regarded as the practice of worship or religious conduct. If an individual imposes restrictions on his conduct and eating habits, the rules assume the characteristics of an oath or religious obligation.

This is why the word "vrat" is a term used to describe commands, obeying instructions, religious duty, and worship of the Deities—moral conduct and ritualistic vows that are undertaken, etc.

Different Types of Vratas

Here is a look at the different types of Vrata as per their nature:

1. Prat

2. Adhopvas

3. Ekaharopvas

4. Rasopvas

5. Phalopvas

6. Dugdhopvas

7. Takropvase

8. Poornopavs

9. Saptahik Upvas

10. Laghu Upvas

1. Prat Upvas: In this type of vrat, we aren't obliged to eat breakfast at the beginning of the day. Furthermore, we must take only two meals during the whole day.

2. Adhopvas: This is also known as the fast in the evening. It is mandatory to eat just once during the day, and we are not required to eat dinner at night.

3. Ekaharopvas: In this case, we have to eat only one kind of food. For instance, if we take a bite of roti at the beginning of the day, it is only permissible to consume Sabji later in the evening. We can eat fruits in the morning and milk at night on the following day.

4. Rasopvas: Herein, we are not allowed to eat cereals (ann) and various kinds of fruit. It is only permitted to consume delicious juices of vegetables and fruits. It is even prohibited on this day.

5. Falopvas: During Falopvas, we must eat only fresh fruits and vegetables. If fruit doesn't suit us, you must eat only cooked vegetables.

6. Dugdhopvas: This fast is also called Dugdha Kalp. We are restricted to drinking milk 4 to 5 times during this fast.

7. Takropvas: It is often referred to as Mathakalp. In this case, we must avoid Ghee and other sour foods. This rule can be observed for two months at a time.

8. Purnopvas: We are not required to consume anything and can just enjoy the fresh and clean water. We must adhere to certain rules that have been set by custom.

9. Saptahik Upvas: If we practice one Purnopvas at least once during the week, this is known as Weekly Upvas.

10. Laghu Upvas: When the Purnopvas is conducted for 3-7 days, it's called Laghu Upvas.

Importance of Vrats

Some consider Vrata as a spiritual practice. Some think of it to be an easy method to shed inches. Many believe that eating diet food helps in repenting of wrongs.

A single word with lasting implications, Vrata, means differently in various contexts. But, usually associated with religion, Vrata is such religious practice that Hindus completely practice.

There are prayers, rituals and ceremonies, and nutritious food options to inspire its zeal. It's a total commitment to the gods and goddesses which helps to transcend the deeply-rooted practices, thus releasing the godliness of the lives.

In addition to reviving our spiritual connection to divine spirituality, Vrata motivates all of us to challenge the norm and accomplish the impossible. But, here are some notable points about why Vrata is significant for Hindus and why it is now a major element of our lives.

Vrata is an Incredibly Powerful Source of Power

Controlling our drive! This is what Vrata strives to accomplish. Beginning with eating habits to the notion that we're not as fragile as we believe we are. Vrata transforms our lives by removing the obstacles that lie in the bowels of our being and providing us with an endless supply of strength and wisdom.

Not Only a Physical Discipline Vrata is Often a Spiritual Food Feast.

Naturally, cutting out meals can result in losing weight; however, it puts the body on the upward slope of spiritual strength in virtue, faith, and virtue. You will gain perseverance, endurance and a sense of the ability to remain in a state of equilibrium. An explosion of power, Vrata can delight your senses and reward you with a delicious meal.

Starving the Flesh to Give the Soul Food

To make big gains in weight, you must lose some in most cases. According to the old saying, Vrata involves abiding by the rules strictly and depriving yourself of regular meals. This can help you get a lot of knowledge, energy and self-power for the necessity of starvation.

For More Physical and Mental Efficiency

We all believe that Vrata leads to a tired body, and one cannot focus as much as he could. However, the reality is that a brain that is highly effective, capable of tackling any challenge, overcoming issues and growing stronger is what you will get as a reward.

Vrata Change Minds and Hearts

Prayer and Vrata can break hearts, wake up minds, and have the potential to trigger the desired change. It can bring about an amount of humility, compassion and even humility.

Spiritual Freedom Beyond our Appetites

Everyday routine shackles our capabilities and binds us to a shackle, rendering us ineffective and helpless. But it's the Vrata that frees our souls and lets us enjoy freedom in every aspect. Freeing yourself from everyday anxiety through a gradual dispersal of wisdom is possible.

Another Method to Remorse for the Sins

There's also a reason for the faith that is the reason for Vrata. The old manuscripts inform people that Vrata increases our sensitivity to the unobserved realities and allows one to admit their sins fully, and as a result, repentance deepens. One can make amends for one's wrongs committed and, at the same time, draw God's attention to oneself. With a longing for God or a desire to repent, Vrata has endless religious desires.

Vrata Allows you Time to Reflect and Pray

If you're complaining that you are fasting, you will not be doing anything other than that. Since you're not eating or drinking any food you consume, you're unlikely to have the energy required to take on the tasks that typically take you time to complete. While you could complete a few tasks during the day, you're not going to be able to do that much. Thus, Vrata will offer you lots of time, which you can make for your needs.

Particularly, Vrata will provide you with the chance to think and pray. The opportunity will allow you to think about everything that happened in the last few days. It is possible to reflect on your accomplishments, your failures and what you think your life will take you from here.

You'll be able to consider your relationships with others. That includes family members, colleagues, and friends. This kind of opportunity for reflection doesn't happen often. Therefore, it is important to avail the maximum benefit of this opportunity.

Vrata Can Foster a New Feeling of Satisfaction

Additionally, Vrata can also foster an increased sense of satisfaction. The society we live in today is more stressful than before.

There is a tendency to measure yourself against others. You might compare yourself to colleagues at work. It is possible to look through social media and compare yourself with others in this way.

It is also possible to compare yourself with your siblings, friends, and others you believe are more prosperous. There isn't much time to just look around and be happy with your accomplishments to date.

Vrata Can Foster a New Feeling of Satisfaction

After you have completed your fast, you're likely to feel rejuvenated. You'll feel full of vitality that you haven't felt for a while. You will be able to express your gratitude to the divine power that has enabled you to go to this point.

You'll also see that even the smallest absence of food was when compared to the benefits you've achieved. Your spirituality has grown, and you are able to speak with more ability and experience all that your body can take on. Even though you've been eating for an entire day, the body is still going.

The main goal is to recognize that food and nutrition are nothing in comparison to the spirituality of your life. Food isn't always enough to satisfy you. After a short time, you're hungry and need to eat more.

Your spirituality will satisfy you to the maximum. In providing you with the assurance you have a divine power that is looking for you, specifically in the case of Vrata, you will be able to feel the confidence and motivation to live your life.

So there is an abundance of benefits you can enjoy when you are fasting.

Frequently Asked Questions

You should rest if you don't sleep enough at night. Otherwise, you might not be able to do your other things well. You'll be tired throughout the day.

Women observe the fast mostly to find an ideal husband. There is a belief that the recitation of Solah Somvar Vrath that happens on the Mondays with 16 Vrata, will make Shiva happy and you will get a perfect husband.

Girls also practice the Vrat tradition on Tuesdays (somwari the vrata) to bring their wish list towards Lord Shiva. According to Hindu beliefs, Saawan, the month that begins on 15th of July, is a time of prosperity for single girls. If they observe somwari the vrata (fast) on one or two Mondays, they will be blessed to have good husbands.