The festival of Karwa Chauth is being celebrated today – females keep fast for the well being of the husband. Like many other brahminical practices, this has also entered Sikhism.
The creator created food to nourish the body. It does not please Him for us to forsake food – remember, an empty stomach cannot remember Him with full devotion.
This is what Sri Guru Granth Sahib offers about fasting:
ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਸੰਜਮ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਤਾ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਆਢੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
Fasting, daily rituals, and austere self-discipline – those who keep the practice of these, are rewarded with less than a shell.
ਆਗੈ ਚਲਣੁ ਅਉਰੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਈ ਊਂਹਾ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੧॥
Hereafter, the way is different, O Siblings of Destiny. There, these things are of no use at all. ||1||
Kabir is quite strict:
ਕਬੀਰ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਸਿਮਰਨੁ ਛਾਡਿ ਕੈ ਅਹੋਈ ਰਾਖੈ ਨਾਰਿ ॥
Kabeer, the woman who gives up meditation on the Lord, and observes the ritual fast of Ahoi,
ਗਦਹੀ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਅਉਤਰੈ ਭਾਰੁ ਸਹੈ ਮਨ ਚਾਰਿ ॥੧੦੮॥
shall be reincarnated as a donkey, to carry heavy burdens. ||108||
Ahoi is also a fasting based ritual. Some people need a punishment, it seems. Many people will argue that fasting is good for the body, which is why they are doing it. My question: why then do it on a specific day? They should do it on another day just to prove they are doing it only for the body and not for any other reason.
I want to use the occasion to also share another verse:
ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਘਿਣਾਵਣੇ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by despising the world.
ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੜਾਵਣੇ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by studying the Vedas.
ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਈਐ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by bathing at the holy places.
ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਧਰਤੀ ਧਾਈਐ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by wandering all over the world.
ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਕਿਤੈ ਸਿਆਣਪੈ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by any clever tricks.
ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਦਾਨੁ ਦੇ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by giving huge donations to charities.
ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਤੇਰੈ ਵਸਿ ਅਗਮ ਅਗੋਚਰਾ ॥
Everyone is under Your power, O inaccessible, unfathomable Lord.
ਤੂ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੈ ਵਸਿ ਭਗਤਾ ਤਾਣੁ ਤੇਰਾ ॥੧੦॥
You are under the control of Your devotees; You are the strength of Your devotees. ||10||