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Janmashtami has almost arrived. The much awaited Hindu festival is celebrated worldwide with lots of joy, enthusiasm and vigour. Janmashtami marks the birth of Lord Krishna. Many cultural programs and events are organised to celebrate Janmashtami. This year the festival will be celebrated on 24th August, Saturday.
There are many spiritual practices and customs that are followed during Janmashtami. For example, fasting is very common way to observe this Hindu festival. Also known as Janmashtami vrat, fasting is observed for 24 hours by devotees of Lord Krishna. During Janmashtami fasting, people either eat fruits or don't eat anything and survive just on water till they offer prayers at midnight.
It is believed that Lord Krishna was born at 12 midnight on this day. The time of the birth of Lord Krishna is considered as an auspicious time and therefore devotees offer prayers to little Gopala, fondly called as 'mahan chor' and then break their fast. Lord Krishna was known to love sweets and so devotees make sure that they prepare lots of sweets and desserts. They offer it to the deity and then have it as 'bhog'.
Fasting is mostly observed during Janmashtami to chant His name, remove impurities from body, mind and soul. Devotees spend their vrat day by chanting bhajans and taking name of Krishna. It is also done to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna, and is also considered as an offering to Bal Gopal. There are 2 most common types of Janmashtami fasting that are observed by Lord Krishna devotees on this auspicious Hindu festival.
Types Of Janmashtami Fasting:
Phalahar Fast: Also known as Phalahar vrat, it is one of the most common types of Janmashtami fasting. The person refrains from cereals, grains, salt and rice. Only buckwheat flour and potatoes are prepared once in the day. The phalahar is consumed midnight after offering prayers and bhog to Krishna. The person can eat fruits and drink milk before sunset.
Nirjala Fast: This is a strict type of Janmashtami fasting where the person refrains from water as well. The devotee doesn't eat or drink anything until midnight Janmashtami Puja is performed, and the bhog is offered to the deity.
Significance of Janmashtami fasting
It is believed that Janmashtami fasting is thousand times beneficial than Ekadashi vrat. It is believed that Lord Narayana incarnated on this day in the midnight. When Yudhishthira asked the benefit of Janmashtami vrat, Lord Krishna replied, "One observing fast on Janmashtami will never lack wealth, food and fame." It is said that couples must abstain from sex on this day.
What to prepare during Janmashtami fasting?
Devotees believe that Lord Krishna has a fetish for sweets, especially milk sweets. You can break your fast by eating a sweet dish that is prepared with milk or khoya (coagulated milk). Other dishes will be also prepared without onions and garlic in it. Phalahar fasting will be broken with buckwheat flour roti (chappati), boiled potato with tomato sabji (without normal salt, onions and garlic).