Hindu Fasts: Ritu Vratas Or Season Vows
Said The God Of Fire:- Now I shall describe the process of practising the Ritu-Vratas, Vratas peculiar to the different sea- sons of the year, which grant enjoyment in this life and salvation in the next. By making gifts of fag- gots in each of the four seasons such as the Rains, etc., and by giving a cow and a quantity of clarified butter at its close, a Brahmana is said to practise the Agni-Vrata. Similarly, the Sarasvati-Vrata should be observed by practising absolute silence for a month, and by making gifts of bells, clothes, sessamum orientale and pitchers, full of clarified butter, to the Brahmanas at its close, whereby the penitent would attain absolute felicity. Thus by bathing for a year, in the composition known as the Panchamrita and by making the gift of a cow to a Brahmana at its close, a man becomes a king in his next existence.
The practiser of the Vishnu-Vrata, should offer edibles to the God Vishnu, on the day of the eleventh phase of the moon’s increase in the month of Chaitra, and observe a fast on the day of its observance, whereby he would be able to sit at the golden feet of that deity. The man who eats porridge and makes the gift of a couple of cows to a Brahmana, is said to observe the Devi-Vrata, the result of such an observance being the increase of wealth.
The man who practises for a year, the Vrata of eating his meals after dedicating them first to the souls of his departed manes, becomes a king. I have finished describing the process of practising the Varsa-Vratas, now I shall descourse on the ways of observing the Sankranti Vratas (Vratas to be practised on the occasion of the sun’s passing over to a new zodiacal sign.)
The man who keeps a vigil in the night of a Sankranti, goes to heaven after death, a similar result being obtained by worship- ping the God Shiva and the sun-god, on the occasion of an Amavasya occurring on a Sankranti day. Again by washing the image of the god Keshava with Jets of clarified butter on the day of the sun’s first appearance on the Tropic of Cancer, the worshipper becomes absolved of all impieties, a twentytwo Pala weight of clarified butter being used in that divine ablution. A similar merit is acquired by per- forming the rite of ablution unto the image of the god Keshava with jets of thickened milk and clarified butter, on the occasions of the sun’s twice passing over the equator (Vishuba).
Now I shall describe the process of performing the Uma-Vrata, which should be practised only by female penitents, on days of the third or the eighth phase of the moon’s increase, the Vrata consists in worshipping Uma and Maheshvara. whereby a woman susually becomes lucky and is never subjected to feel the pangs of separation from her consort. The woman, who duly worships the sun-god, takes birth as a man in her next existence.