Jain fasting

Jain fastingFasting is a tool for doing Tapa and to attach to your inner-being. It is a part of Jain festivals. It is three types based on the level of austerity; Uttam, Madhyam and Jaghanya; first being the most stringent.

1. Uttam: Renounce all worldly things including food & water on the day of fasting and eat only once on the eve & next day of fasting.
2. Madhyam: Food & water is not taken on the day of fast.
3. Jaghanya: Eat only once on the day.

During fasting a person immerses himself in religious activities like worshiping, serving the saints & be in their proximity, reading scriptures, Tapa, and donate to the right candidates.

Most Jains fast at special times, like during festivals and on holy days (eighth & fourteenth days of the moon cycle). Paryushana is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days for Svetambara Jains and ten days for Digambars, during the monsoon. The monsoon is considered the best time of fasting due to lenient weather. However, a Jain may fast at any time.

A unique ritual in this religion involves a holy fasting until death; it is called sallekhana. Through this one achieves a death with dignity and dispassion as well as no more negative karma. When a person is aware of approaching death, and feels that he has completed all duties, he willingly ceases to eat or drink gradually. This form of dying is also called Santhara or Samaadhi. It can be as long as 12 years with gradual reduction in food intake.

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