What is Fasting and why it is observed?
Abstaining from food or at least from some kinds of food items is referred to as Fasting. It does have its own physical benefits as it provides the much needed rest to the digestive organs and gives respite to the other over-worked systems. But 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.
Wednesday, also known as Budhvar, is the day of Budh or Mercury, who is regarded as the wisest and youngest of planets and as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom and wealth. Lord Vishnu is the ruling God of this planet and hence, Wednesday is dedicated to him.
What is the associated mythology?
There is an interesting story that narrates the significance of Budhvar Vrat. Once there lived a well-to-do moneylender. Once, he went to his parents-in-law’s house to bring back his wife, who was staying there for quite sometime. That day happened to be Wednesday and her parents were reluctant to allow their daughter to return with her husband immediately, as Wednesdays are not regarded auspicious for undertaking travels. But the man was in a hurry and so, he pressurized his wife to accompany him back on that day itself. While they were returning in a bullock cart, the wife felt thirsty midway in the journey. The man had to go looking for water and when he returned, a shock awaited him. There was another man who looked so very similar to him, sitting in the cart along with his wife. When questioned, the new man replied nonchalantly that he was the real husband of the lady, while the lady sat thoroughly confused about the two husband look alikes! But as the harassed husband was at his wits ends, an old man who came to the scene and hearing what actually happened, advised him to take refuge in Budh God. The man realized his mistake of starting on that travel on a Wednesday, prayed earnestly to Budh, promising the God that he will undertake his worship and fasting on Wednesdays and pleading with him to save him from the predicament. Budh was a merciful God, who listened to the hapless man’s plea with compassion, forgave his folly, made the duplicate disappear as mysteriously as he had appeared and ended his misery in no time. The grateful man understood the significance of prayers and kept his word by observing Budhvar Fasting and worship.
How Fasting is observed on Wednesdays?
Budhvar Vrat or Wednesday Fasting begins right from early in the morning on that day, and continues for the next 24 hours. Some take a single meal in the afternoon on that day. Sometimes, the husband and wife observe the fast together. Devotees spend the day in constant prayers to Lord Vishnu, chanting hymns like Vishnu Sahasranama in his praise, singing bhajans, reading and hearing stories about him and offering Tulasi leaves. They also offer prayers to Budh God. Mercury is fond of green color and hence, people make offerings of green moong dhal, grapes, green vegetables and green cloth, along with cooked rice, curd, jaggery, sweets etc to Budh. Some wear even green clothes and feed the cows with fodder and green grams. Some others do poor feeding. This fast is generally begun on the first Wednesday of Shukla Paksha, the Moon waxing phase and is continued by some for as many as 21 successive Wednesdays.
What benefits accrue on undertaking Fasting on Tuesdays?
Budhvar Vrat or Fasting will please Lord Vishnu and Budha, and the devotees can get the benefit of their blessings. Prayers to Vishnu will help to neutralize any negative vibrations of Mercury, and bestow them with intelligence and prosperity, wealth and wisdom, and a good family life and even fortunes. Business ventures started on Wednesdays, when the Vrat is observed, will prosper.