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There was a time when everybody in India, especially women, observed fast on a regular basis. In my childhood, I saw my mother not only observe fast herself but also insisting upon my sisters to observe fast once in a week, an extra fast once in a month and observe the two Navratras in a year of 9 days each. Together, this comes out to be around 80 fasts in a year.
When I go back to my childhood, I remember the fast used to be one day of avoiding cereals altogether. We were allowed to eat Roti made of Kuttu flour, singharha flour, samak rice and dal made of chaulai (all fruits).
But as children, we could never understand the meaning of fast. Today India is becoming a hub of diabetes, heart diseases and insulin resistance and all of them are linked with not observing fasts or eating high carb diets every day.
The culprit is eating carbohydrates, especially, refined carbohydrates. When we recall our mythology, only one king Raja Dashrath died of heart attack. This only signifies that our mythological lifestyle was preventing heart diseases in India. The western culture spreading rapidly in India involves eating carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white rice white maida) every day.
I recently did a survey and found that women who do weekly vrats had a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome.
Today’s girls and women do not want to listen to the word ‘vrata’ or ‘spiritual vrata’.
Therefore, they must be made to understand the same in the language of a ‘medical vrata’. The simpler version of ‘vrata’ can be – not eating carbohydrates at all once in a week and replacing them with fruits and vegetables.
I normally suggest that once in a week, one should eat only fruits and vegetables and at the most can have milk, curd. If still someone has desires, they can have besan ka chila.