Hindu Fasts: Kartika Fast
Brahma Said:-1 shall mow enumerate the Vratas which are to be practised in the month of Kartika. Avotary of Vishnu shall take his ablution and worship his deity each morning. The votary shall take a single meal each day, or shall live on alms in connection with the practising of any Vratam in the month of Kartika. In the alternative, he shall live on vegetables or on a milk regimen, whereby he shall be exonerated from all sins, will witness the realisation of all his wished for objects, and ascend, a stainless spirit, to the region of heaven after death. A Vratam, practised at any time in honour of the god Hari, ranks foremost in respect of merit; and specially so in the one, performed when the sun is in the winter solstice.
The Chaturmasyam is the greatest of all annual Vratas, while the one, practised in the month of Kartika and known as the Bhishmapanchakam, is better than the former. The Bhishmapanchakam Vratam should be practised on the day of the eleventh phase of the moon’s in- crease in the month of Kartika, in connection with which the practiser shall thrice bathe each day, worship the god Hari, and propitiate his departed manes with the offerings of barley corn.
Further he shall observe a vow of silence; perform the rite of ceremonial ablution, with a solution of Panchagavyam in sacred water, unto the god Hari; and annoint his image with camphorated unguents. A Brahmana votary, under the circumstance, shall continuously bum, for five days, incense sticks made of Guggulu and clarified butter, and dedicate viands, edibles and Paramannas (a kind of sweetened rice porridge) to the god, and cast hundred and eight libation of clarified butter into the sacrificial fire by repeating the Mantra which runs as, “Om, obeisance to the god Vasudeva.”
On the first day. the feet of the divine image (Vishnu) should be worshipped with lotus flowers; its knees, with the Vilva leaves on the second; its navel, with sandal paste on the third; its shoulders, with the Java flowers and Vilva leaves on the fourth; and its head, with the Malati flowers on the fifth. The votary shall lie down on the bare ground during the entire term of the Vratam and successively take the five components of Panchagavyam, vis., one on each day of the worship, taking the entire compound (Panchagavyam) on the fofth night. By practising the vows as above described, a man becomes entitled to the pleasures of the two worlds.
The performance of the Ekadasi Vratam is imparatively obligatory on all, a breach being sinful and degrading. A man shall observe a fast on the eleventh day of the fortnight, whether light or dark, inasmuch as it tends to absolve him of all sins, precludes the chance of his ever visiting the shades of Haydes and makes him entitled to the beatitude of the region of Vishnu. A man observing a fast on the eleventh day of the fortnight, shall break it on the twelfth, and resume his usual mode of living on the night of the thirteenth. A day entirely marked by the eleventh phase of the moon, should be regarded as permeated with the blessed Self of Hari. The day on which the moon is both in her tenth and eleventh phases, should be regarded as consigned to the de- mons. Hence fasting on such a day is prohibited.
The votary shall break his fast on the twelfth day of the fortnight. The performance of an Ekadasi Vratam is never affected by the personal unclean- ness incidental to the death or birth of one’s agnates. Fasts, which are to be made on the fourteenth, or on the first day of the fortnight, should be respectively observed on a day when the moon exists for a while in her preceding phase. The same rule holds good in respect of Dvitiya, Chaturthi, Panchami and Shasthi Vratras.