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Rules of Vratas

Most devout Indians fast regularly or on special occasions like festivals and Ekadashis. On such days they do not eat at all, eat once or eat fruits or a special diet of simple food.

Fasting in Sanskrit is called upavaasa. Upa means "near" + vaasa means "to stay". Upavaasa therefore means staying near (the Lord), meaning the attainment of close mental proximity with the Lord.

Though the rules concerning the vratas had been very much liberalized to embrace as large a segment of the society as possible, there had to be some rules guiding the whole process in order to protect and preserve the sanctity of the ritual system itself. These may be summarized as follows:

bullet Once undertaken, a vrata should never be left unfinished, nor should a new one be undertaken until a previously begun vrata has been completed.
bullet One should never begin observing a vrata while in ashaucha (ceremonial impurity brought about by birth or death in one’s family).
bullet People who are too old or too sick to complete their vratas can have them performed by close relatives who are willing to do so.
bullet Once the decision is taken to perform a vrata, the actual commencement should be made only as per the auspicious time, place and mode laid down by the books.
bullet Only one vrata can be undertaken at a time.