Hindu Fasts: The Mashopavasha Vratam
Brahma Said:- Now I shall describe the mode of practicing the vow of a month’s privation, which is the best of all penances. It is imperatively obligatory on women, anchorites and forest-dwelling hermits lo practice the penance. The votary shall undertake the vow, first on the day of the eleventh phase of the moon’s increase in the month of As’vina, and which is to be continued for the next consecutive thirty days. He shall invoke the help of the god Hari for the successful termination of his vow by reciting the prayer which reads as follows:- “I undertake this vow in thy presence, 0 Vishnu. From this date, I shall worship thee fasting continuously for a month each day until the day of thy rising from slumber. I shall practice this vow from the twelfth day of the moon’s increase in the month of As’vina to the corresponding day of the month of Kartika. May I not be accused of the sin of a broken vow if I die in the interim, and may my Vraiam be deemed complete by thy grace even under the circumstance.”
The penitent shall thrice bathe each day, and worship the god Hari with the offerings of perfumes, etc. during the term of the Vraiam. He shall abjure the use of oil and unguents during the period, and break his vow on the day of the twelfth phase of the moon’s increase in the month of Kartika. The god should be worshipped at the close of the Vratam: and the Brahmanas, sumptuously feasted; after which the penitent shall break his fast. Milk may be taken by the penitent in the case of his fainting during the fast without any apprehension of breaking his vow, the reward of its observance being enjoyment of creature comforts in this life, and residence in heaven in the next.