Friday, September 3, 2010

Fast and Famished

I love food. The hot, spicy kind (not too much into sweets and desserts). And I most definitely cannot go an entire day without it.

But yesterday was janmashtami. The festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna. It is a big festival and one that I have always enjoyed (especially the part where I get to swing the god in the miniature wooden cradle at home after he is officially born. Anyway, I digress). And it is the one occasion when I observe a day of fast.

Why this festival and not loads of others which offer the same opportunity, one may ask. Well, the reason is actually quite simple. It is the only festival when those who fast are allowed milk items like lassi, dahi etc. (not sweets, though) and fruits throughout the day. So, I do not really have to go hungry throughout the day. Smart, huh?

I think I first started fasting on this day because most of my aunts and uncles in my family used to. And I always wanted to do what they did. And I tried to follow their rigour in fasting. Consider the following example of how a ten year old me fasted on janmashtami:

7:00 a.m. Get up from bed and inform my mom proudly that I am going to fast today.

9:00 a.m. Have found a valid excuse for refusing milk. The fasting rules do not allow Complan. So, no milk. My grandmother supports me.

11:00 a.m. First pangs of hunger. Have a banana and guava. Refuse the apples and lament the unavailability of mangoes.

1:00 p.m. Aunt asks if I am hungry. Of course not, is my indignant reply. I am only going to eat at midnight, I declare.

3:00 pm. The non-fasting population of the household gathers for tea and snacks. I look, ponder and consider. I will have some tea and snacks, I announce. And what about the fast? I will do it next year.

4:00 p.m. Hunger sated for the time being. I will fast from now on till midnight, I tell my aunt, uncle and mom. They just look at me and say nothing.

10.00 p.m. Culinary preparations for the midnight feast are on. My dad, who can never fast, is having his dinner. It all looks really tasty and smells good too. My stomach growls. I eat with him.

12:00 p.m. The puja takes place. I eat with my aunt and uncle. After all, I did observe the fast.

Of course, I no longer do such things. But I have certain rules about it:

Rule number 1: My office should have declared a holiday. I have a very valid reason for this. I once tried fasting when I had work, which required my traipsing all over Kolkata in pouring rain to oversee some interviews at grocery stores. I was dead by the time I reached home.

Rule number 2: My kitchen should be stocked with plenty of curd for preparing lassi. And it should be really sweet.

Rule number 3: I will not do any chores at home. After all, in my feeble state, I can hardly be expected to help out.

Rule number 4: I will only sleep, watch TV and read books.

Rule number 5: There should be plenty of fruits of my choice. So, apples are out.

Rule number 6: If I throw any tantrums, one must bear with me. Hunger brings out the fussy me.

But despite all these rules, Murphy still manages to scupper my party.

I feel more hungry than usual and the last couple of hours are sheer torture. There are times, when I have lot of work, I skip meals and not really mind it. On janmashtami, however, every missed bite seems unbearable.

Yet, I survived the day, though I kind of rushed my dad through the puja. I gobbled down the food when it was served and lived to write this blog.

Thank god, the god is born only once a year!


  1. Wow...didn't know you had fasted on Janamashtami...brave. I used to attempt fasting when I was younger and it used to go the same way that you have described. Nowadays, I just give myself a pat on the back if I refrain from eating another slice of cheese laden pizza. That's about as close to fasting I can get! :P

  2. I can never resist pizza though.....i stay away even the sight of lip-smacking, sumptuous fare that may tempt me :-)