What do the practitioners of Jainism do when they fast?

Expert Answers
ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When fasting, Jains are attempting to either do penance or overcome their desire for food.  There are certain times of year when most Jains fast, but this method of purification may be undertaken at any time when one feels that they have committed some act worth repenting for.  The fasting is a way of purifying the mind and the body.

The trick is that the fasting, ideally, will lead to a control of one's desires.  In the purest sense the fast fails if one is unable to control hunger and remains hungry the whole time.

There are lots of different types of fasts in Jainism.  Here are some examples:

  1. Santhara: giving up food and water completely, leading to death (usually done at the end of someone's life : )
  2. Partial fasting: eating less than you want but enough that you are not starving
  3. Rasa Parityag: giving up your favorite foods
  4. Upvas: to give up food for one day
  5. Porsi: only eating three hours after sunrise
  6. Tivihar: no juice or food after sunset...only water

These are only a few examples of the many different kinds of fasting that Jain practice.  The link below will lead you to a full list.