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Fasting is not at all uncommon in the world's religions, though they vary in their methods. Generally, the reasons for fasting range from commemorating certain days or events, or to follow divine commands. The very young, diseased or pregnant part of the populace is usually exempt from fasting.

The most common instance of fasting - or observing sawm - in Muslim society is during the month of Ramadan. Fasting during this month is considered one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims observing a fast abstain from drinking, eating, sexual activity and intoxicants from Fajr [prayer before dawn] to Maghrib [prayer at dusk]. They also refrain from violence, swearing and try to control their temper. It is thought that by resisting temptations, they strengthen their faith and devotion to Allah and come closer to him. Also, by fasting, the rich may know how the poor fare, and this encourages compassion.

Fasts can also be held on regular days [except certain forbidden ones, such as the Eid days], though they are not compulsory. Also, fasts can be kept on special days such as Shab-e-Meraj and Shab-e-Barat.

There are many different churches of Christianity and they hold different views when it comes to fasts. Fasting generally revolves around Lent, which is the 40-day period during which Jesus wandered in the desert, resisting the temptations of Satan. Usually fasting involves avoiding meat or animal products. There is also partial fasting, which is avoiding a meal altogether. Certain parts of the Roman Catholic Church abstain totally from eating or drinking.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and Greek-Catholicism believes that the idea behind fasting is not to suffer, but to guard against gluttony and impure thoughts and deeds. Fasting has to be accompanied by increased prayer and charity, without which, it is thought to be incomplete.

The Protestant reformers were very critical of fasting, calling it an external observation. But in recent times, the mood has changed somewhat and fasting is encouraged.

There are two major fasting days in the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av. Yom Kippur is considered the most important day of the Jewish calendar. It is supposed to be the period of the year when a person's fate is decided. There is an approximately 24 hour fast [from sunset of one day to the sunset of the next], accompanied by various restrictions on activity and dress codes, and extensive synagogue services. The actions on this day centres around repentance and redemption. Tisha B'Av is the end of a period of mourning, which commemorates the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Jews also remember the many tragedies that wracked their folk on this day.

In Hinduism also the days of fasting are varied. It depends mostly on people's personal beliefs and favourite deities. For example, followers of Shiva fast on Mondays, while followers of Vishnu fast on Friday or Saturday. Some Hindus fast on Ekadoshi and Purnima, which are phases of the moon.

One of the more famous instances of Hindu fasting, which has been highlighted in Bollywood movies, is Karwa Chauth. It takes place in the spring, fourth day of the waning moon. The married women perform this fast for the longevity and prosperity of their husbands. They start at moonrise [or dawn, it varies], and end the fast at the next moonrise, first looking at the moon through a sieve and then at their husbands. In between, they do not eat or drink.

Reference: Internet, Wikipedia
By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Kal-Eid-oscope: A nanotales special

20 ways to save the salami

Eid is nigh and guys, have you planned what to do about the economical state of the country? The global recession is taking its tolls, and we, teenagers are not above it. Cries for Salami (Eidi) are rising, and you need to prepare yourself to save your pockets and the moneybags from resembling the Kalahari Desert. Plan ahead, friends. Tighten your pants, shackle your moneybags and be ready to jump at any elder's feet when the situation demands. This is war, people.

Gather up the courage and fulfil your destiny: the art of squeezing the Eidi
1. Practice sit-ups the last few days before the Eid. That should come in handy when you are doing some serious 'salaming'.

2. Before the Eid comes, act politer than usual to the elders and your targets (read- victims). This is called 'softening the heart' part. Beware this part is actually difficult.

3. Parents are the first source of Eidi on Eid day. Why? Because you see them first. Anyway, don't put away studies excusing 'Roja' or 'health'. At least study as best as you can manage in the remaining days. Chances are that the parents will be really pleased and will give you an extra few bucks.

4. You have some boring and super-rich uncle who always tries to lure you into their boring and endless talk on economics, politics, literature, and history? Well, think again before you turn down their offer to listen. Studies show that listening to them, however indifferently, and nodding soften their hearts and may result in your getting a handsome amount.

5. Greasing is an effective way of squeezing money out of someone. Use it effectively.

6. Hone your praising skills. Look up all the vocabulary in the dictionary on the proper ways of dressing up, manners of clothing, various term for 'sharee', '3 piece', 'panjabi' etc and use them with good effect.

7. If you plan on asking about the price of clothes, never forget to quip in, “What? It's that cheap? Unbelievable! Uncle/Aunty, you are a terrific shopper. Nobel Prize!”

8. On Eid day, try to clean up the plates of whichever item you get. This boosts the morale of the home-maker of that family, ultimately resulting in your victory.

9. When you visit a friend, sigh and mutter, loud enough to make the friend's mom hear, “If I could have this delicious food everyday!” Of course, make sure that your mom is not around.

10. Don't overdo with the praises. Otherwise they might get suspicious.

11. If you get a meagre amount, always serve up a news flash on who gave you how much. Motivate them.

Survival of the fittest: there are others besides you
Don't ever think that you won't be a victim of this salami extortion. This is karma my friend. But don't be afraid too, here are some precious suggestions from a veteran.
1. First and foremost rule: flee on
sight. This is the best way.
2. If you can't, pretend to be deaf.
3. Or pretend to be broke. Don't shave for a few days (for guys) and make your eyes puffy and red (for girls).
4. Try reverse psychology. Ask for more eidi from those brats' parents.

5. Kids can be easily manipulated. If you have no option but to give them salami, at first make them work. Make them clean your desk and massage your back.
6. This point is a hoax.
7. Just submit to your fate and try to get away with a ten taka note.

8. If you are still determined not to lose any money, then I suggest you taking courses to walk on poles so they can't reach you.

One point left, isn't it? Baah, make them on your own. I have to buy some bamboo poles, excuse me.

By Jawad



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