6 religions other than Islam that require fasting

Published: June 16, 2016
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PHOTO: CHIANGRAITIMES.COM

PHOTO: CHIANGRAITIMES.COM

While the month of Ramazan is known around the world to Muslims and non-Muslims alike as the month of fasting, there are several other religions that practice fasting as well on various religious occasions.

Here are six religions — other than Islam — that require their followers to fast.

How many hours will you be fasting this year?

1. Jews

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the best known fast day. The Jewish calendar has six other fast days as well, including Tish B’Av — the day on which the destruction of the Jewish temple took place.

PHOTO: LELAND BOBBE/CORBIS

2. Buddhists

All the main sects of Buddhists practice some periods of fasting, usually on full-moon days and other holidays.

Monks Chanting at Wat Pah Nanachat. PHOTO: BUDDHISTTEACHINGS.ORG

3. Catholics

Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. They also abstain from meat on all Fridays in Lent.

Parishioner Jennifer has ash smudged on her forehead by a Reverand on Ash Wednesday. PHOTO: BANGORDAILYNNEWS/JOHN CLARKE RUSS

4. Hindus

Fasting is commonly practiced on new moon days and during festivals such as Shivarati, Saraswati and Puja.

PHOTO: TELUGONE.COM

5. Mormons

Members of the Latter Day Saint movement, Mormons fast on the first Sunday of each month.

PHOTO: LDSSMILE.COM

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6. Baha’is

The Baha’i fast takes place during Ala — the 19th month of the Baha’i year, from March 2 to 20.

The Shrine of Baha’u’llah in Bahji, is the most holy site in the world for Baha’is. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Reader Comments (16)

  • vinsin
    Jun 16, 2016 - 3:06PM

    You forgot Jains. Ramazan is not exactly a fasting – it is based on warrior diet. Fasting is about abstaining from or reducing amount of food/water consume. In Ramazan on average consumption doubles.Recommend

  • Sunil
    Jun 16, 2016 - 3:08PM

    Please leave Buddhists and Hindus out. We are not part of Abrahamic world, we know what we have to do. We do not have to fast but can do. For Sanatana Dharma, we have a relationship with God, that is more important to us.Recommend

  • Fawad
    Jun 16, 2016 - 4:29PM

    Ramazan is not true fasting, time of eating is shifted, people eat just don’t eat during daylight. In other religion they don’t eat whole day or reduce their consumption, but in Ramzan it is all about eating, even read article about good diet During fast, people talk more about food than anything else.Recommend

  • Babar Ali
    Jun 16, 2016 - 5:21PM

    IN these long summer fasts you cannot double your consumption.Recommend

  • Someone
    Jun 16, 2016 - 6:31PM

    @vinsin:
    the difference is, in Ramadan, you abstain from all food/water during the fasting period. Whereas in Hindu fasting, you can consume liquids but not certain type of foods. Which makes it more of a dieting plan rather than fasting.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan
    Jun 16, 2016 - 7:56PM

    @vinsin:

    You wrote: “it is based on warrior diet”

    You are lying about the facts. Fasting in Ramzan teaches to feel how poor and less fortunate feels when they are hungry. In addition to that Ramzan is also the month of giving charity to less fortunate. Recommend

  • Mega
    Jun 16, 2016 - 8:33PM

    @Someone: Your are misinformed. Only people who want to drink water, drink. Rest keep complete fast whole day in dharmic religions. Also drinking water is not diet plan since water have no calories. Diet plan is when you eat balanced food with less calorie.
    In ramadan people fast during day and eat in evening whatever they want.. That’s the basic difference between both fasting.Recommend

  • kahnakacha
    Jun 16, 2016 - 10:12PM

    @vinsin:

    “In Ramazan on average consumption doubles.”

    Totally False.

    Can you prove scientifically that a human can switch to twice the amount of food in 24 hour period (suddenly not gradually) and then switch back to regular amounts, after a month?

    At the most, people eat excess amounts (more than their usual amount in a single meal) when they break their fast, to compensate for not having eaten entire day. They try to eat same amount of food in two meals (in Ramazan), as they would normally eat in their usual 3 meals (plus a snack or two) in rest of the year. But that doesn’t mean that total consumption of food in 24 hour period is doubled, per person.

    Also I have noticed that quality of food changes as well during Ramazan. Many people tend to eat more greasy food and sweets during Ramazan, which is against any doctor’s recommendations as well as goes against the spirit of fasting in Islam. Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani
    Jun 17, 2016 - 12:38AM

    I once read that certain tribes in China fast continuously for a whole week (no food, no water). I also understand that Hindus/Jains/Buddhists have to fast for 24 hours, again without food or water. So Muslims are very lucky, being able to stuff themselves with food and liquids between sunset and dawn during the holy month.Recommend

  • Xyz
    Jun 17, 2016 - 3:09AM

    @kahnakacha:
    So in essence the calorie intake does increase? There have been reports on Ramazan being associated with weight gain.

    And that is perfectly fine. Everyone has their own practices …. what I do not like is that it almost seems like a compulsion on Muslims that they absolutely have to fast. In all the other religions it’s seen much more of a personal choice and belief.Recommend

  • Mian
    Jun 17, 2016 - 3:50AM

    If your relationship to God is important then we also value our relationship with our God. Your dismissal of ideology of other’s faith tells a lot about how much you respect them@Sunil: Recommend

  • PrasadDeccani
    Jun 17, 2016 - 5:12AM

    @kahnakacha:

    I am not posting this comment to enter into an argument, but to get answers from a rationale person for my questions about Ramazan.

    1) I always read stories in this very new papers about prices of consumer items (vegetables, meat, fruits…) going up irrationally during Ramazan period. If most of you fast during this holy period, why should prices shoot up? It is counter intuitive to me.

    2) I follow Shiridi Baba’s teachings. I fast every Thursday (Yes, I do take a couple of cups of water during fasting). On Wednesday night, I don’t eat any more food than what I eat on other nights. I eat my usual dinner on Wednesday, go to bed, get up next day and fast till 8PM and, have usual dinner.

    If I understood the way you fast, you eat a lot during early hours of a day (during Ramzan) and fast till evening. I do agree that your fasting is much stricter, to the extent that you don’t even let saliva go into your stomach.

    Why do you keep yourself awake till early hours of a day to eat food when you are fasting?Recommend

  • Questioner
    Jun 17, 2016 - 7:32AM

    @Mian, where does the question of respect arise here, and why must we ‘respect everything’? One key difference between Islam and most other religions – specially those not of Abrahamic origin – is the far greater degree of compulsion in these things, as in most other things. Individual agency and choice play relatively much smaller roles, and there is far greater theological and group-conformity. Recommend

  • DG
    Jun 17, 2016 - 10:19AM

    What is the origin of the fasting season (Ramzan) ?

    Why is it during summer (N hemisphere) and not in winter ?

    Is it related to early days war and desert ? Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani
    Jun 17, 2016 - 12:26PM

    @DG: Ramazan is not always in summer. The lunar year is 354 days, so Ramazan happens in all months, not only in June. Six years from today it will be in April, and so on. Recommend

  • kahnakacha
    Jun 17, 2016 - 7:59PM

    @PrasadDeccani:

    Good questions.

    Fasting is practices in many religions. All faiths do it differently, but end of the day, main purpose of spiritual cleansing, and secondary purpose is physical cleansing. And like other faiths, some people observe religious rituals in the way they were intended to be, while other do it as a burden or as a cultural and/or religious obligation.

    Personally, I only eat regular amount of food when I break fast, and these days nights are so short, that at dawn, I am hungry enough to eat a full meal again, so I just hydrate and eat a small snack. So I am reduced from 3 meals and couple of snacks, to one meal and one snack during Ramazan. I know a lot of people who do the same. Most people in my circle either maintain their weight or loose some. I have always lost some weight during Ramazan.

    Not everyone stays up all night. People like me, who have regular day time jobs, go to sleep after breaking fast and offering prayers. We get up early at dawn, to eat (snack or a full meal) and offer dawn (Pre sunrise) prayers. Depending on when their job starts, some people will stay up to go to work, while others go back to sleep.

    Muslim fast begins at crack of Dawn (Which is before sunrise), so people get up to have a snack/meal before starting their fast, and also to offer dawn prayers. Fast ends at sunset. In some Muslim countries, especially in Middle east where days are really hot in summers, markets stay open all night for people to shop and go out when it is not too hot. Many markets stay open all year long, but in Ramazan more shops stay open than usual, because people tend to stay inside more than usual in Ramazan (remember no drinking water when fasting). So staying up late or till dawn is more of a regional practice in some countries, due to extreme weather conditions. It is not a religious practice or obligation.

    And swallowing normal amount saliva is not a problem when fasting. Its natural. There are some restrictions involved with saliva, but they address special or extreme circumstances, and I wont go in that much detail.

    As for prices going up, it happens in corrupt countries (Pakistan included), where some shop owners try to take advantage of people. Doesn’t happen in all Islamic majority countries. Most households will try to make sure their pantries are up to date, and they have all the ingredients they need in this month. There are many ingredients or spices that we use in small quantities, and don’t care if they run out. But in this month people will make sure every thing is updated. It is a cultural/physiological thing. And corrupt shop owners jack up prices for certain ingredients.

    I hope this answers your questions. Recommend

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