What is Fasting and why it is observed?
Abstaining from food or at least some kinds of food items is referred to as Fasting. It does have its own (have remove the word physical) benefits as it provides the much needed rest to the digestive organs and gives respite to the other over-worked systems. However (cannot start a sentence with but, hence replaced it with however)the benefits of fasting on the spiritual side can be said to be much more profound.
Though fasting, also known as Upavas or Vrat, is undertaken at times for the fulfillment of some vows and also for physical gains, its true purpose remains less material and substantially spiritual. Our consciousness often gets corrupted over time by accumulation of impurities, and it is fasting that helps significantly in its purification.
What is the importance of the individual week days?
Each of the 7 week days actually represents a planet and these are named only after them, as per the Hindu system. Thus, Monday represents the Moon; Tuesday, Mars; Wednesday, Mercury; Thursday, Jupiter; Friday, Venus; Saturday, Saturn; and Sunday, the Sun. This apart, the weekdays are also dedicated to different specific Gods and it is strongly believed that offering prayers to that particular deity on his or her special week day, will please the deity and get his or her blessings in abundance.
Tuesday is known as Mangalvar and is held sacred, as it remains auspiciousness personified (Mangal itself means auspiciousness). It is also governed by the powerful Mars, which represents qualities like vitality, power, endurance and courage. Tuesday is also the day dedicated in general to Lord Hanuman, while people in south offer worship to Lord Muruga on this day.
What is the associated mythology?
There is a story that highlights the efficacy of Tuesday Vrat or fasting on Tuesdays. Long ago, there were pious couples, who lived a contended life, but were sad because they had no issue. The physicians whom they consulted told them that the husband had some serious problems in his reproductive system and hence, they have little chance of having an issue. The man was heartbroken on hearing this. But the woman who had great faith in divine powers, prayed earnestly to Lord Hanuman and observed fasts on Tuesdays for propitiating him. In course of time, she became weak and started fainting, but still continued with her Tuesday Vrats with faith. The compassionate Lord Hanuman took pity on her and by his grace; she conceived miraculously and delivered a healthy boy in due course. The husband too was happy, but soon began suspecting the fidelity of his wife. He tried even to kill the baby. But the wife continued with her Tuesday austerities. Lord Hanuman came to her rescue once again, as he appeared in the man’s dream, chided him for casting aspersions on his chaste wife and confirmed that the boy was his progeny only, whom they got through a miracle of his. The husband realized his folly, sought the wife’s pardon and they lived happily thereafter, with the wife continuing her Hanuman worship with greater faith.
How Fasting is observed on Tuesdays?
Mangalvar Vrat or Tuesday Fasting begins right from early in the morning on that day, and continues through the day till the evening. Some may take food made of wheat and jaggery one time that day. Devotees spend the day in constant prayers to Lord Hanuman, chanting hymns like Hanuman Chalisa in his praise, singing bhajans, reading the Sundarakandam chapter of Ramayana, that describes Hanuman’s exploits and also hearing stories about him and also about Mangalvar Vrat. People also make offerings of ghee (clarified butter), vada (dhal savoury), sindhoor (red vermillion), betal leaf garlands, red flowers, tulsi leaves (Basil) etc to him. Many continue this fasting worship continuously for as many as 21 successive Tuesdays.
In South, many people observed similar austerities for Lord Muruga, chanting hymns like Kandha Shasti Kavasam in his praise, lighting lamps, offering items like red flowers, visiting Muruga temples, Panchamirtham, bananas, sweets etc and performing special poojas. Such Tuesday worship for Muruga is done for 9 to 10 Tuesdays without a break. (Elaborate on Muruga with a mythology)
What benefits accrue on undertaking Fasting on Tuesdays?
Tuesday’s governing planet Mars is indeed powerful. But when it is ill placed in a person’s birth chart, it can cause serious problems like bad temperament, anger, relationship issues, accidents, delayed marriages, legal issues, obstacles in purchase of house or property etc in life. Observing Tuesday Fasting with faith will get the blessings of Lord Hanuman and Muruga and will help to remove the afflictions caused by Mars. This will also help to gain strength and courage, and solve difficulties in life. This vow can also bless a couple with a good child.