In India, there are numerous occasions when people who worship gods, tend to observe fast. Fast, it seems to them would make the Gods happy and give them their blessings.
Though i truly fail to understand as to why would God be happy, if human beings stay on empty stomach - or eat this or that.
There are customs according to which people who prefer to eat non-vegetarian food, observe a "fast" and eat only vegetarian food on tuesdays and thursdays. I have never been able to figure out why? And why only tuesdays and thrusdays and why not mondays and wednesdays?
And then there is this huge festival called karwa-chauth where married women "fast" for their hubbies. They are not supposed to drink water or eat anything. But some women in my office say that though water is not allowed, you can have cold-drinks and tea/coffee. Strange... Well, if you look at it in this manner, even beer should be allowed... Just kidding...
And the latest trend in fasting is to "fast" for 9 days straight. The navratras. Shop keepers have special "navratra thalis". In fact, this fast seems to me more like a gen-next trend than to do anything with the Gods. All girls and most of the boys "Fast". There are rules about what you can eat and what you cannot eat. So though salt is not supposed to be allowed, but there is special "salt" available which can be had. And then since you are not allowed to eat normal rotis and rice, but there is a distinct variety of flour (not wheat flour) which could be used to make puris and whatever. And ofcourse there is another variety of rice - which you can have. And you can have potatos and lots of "special" papads, and "special" laddoos(sweets). And today itself i came to know that you can also have some green veggies like bottle-gourd and "arbi" (dont know the proper name).
Hence, i fail to understand the purpose of the fast, when eventually you tend to eat everything.
And i fail to understand why under-nourish yourself on the pretension of "fasting".
The fast that i remember is that of a college friend who decided that on every saturday - he would have food only once in the whole day - the main purpose being to lose weight. And he did good. Within 6 months, he had shaped his body pretty well.
Finally, to those people who are actually fasting, i would ask them to have mercy on their close ones who take tension since you would be going without food. The same tension that you would have, if they go without food for a day.