Article: Varṣītap

Contributed by M. Whitney Kelting

Completing the fast

At the end of his fast a man is fed sugar-cane juice. Many lay people fast during festivals. Believed to help destroy karmas bound to the soul, fasting is also a way of gaining merit – puṇya. The ending of a fast is usually a time of celebration.

Completing a fast
Image by Chandu Shah © Chandu Shah

The day of the fast-breaking is called Akṣaya Tṛtīyā, or 'Immortal Third'.

Those who perform the Varṣītap break their fast on Vaiśākh bright 3rd with sugar-cane juice in remembrance of the story of Sreyaṇ’s feeding of the first Jina.

The fasters often go to a temple associated with Ṛṣabhanatha or Lord Ṛṣabha for their morning worship on the day of their fast-breaking. Some Jains will break this fast in Hastinapur, at the same location as Ṛṣabha. Although Ṛṣabha broke his fast at Hastinapur, many Jains completing Varṣītap try to end it at Mount Śatruñjaya as the most important temple dedicated to Ādināth or Ṛṣabha for contemporary Jains.

After completing the fast-breaking, fasters are usually processed in a parade, publicly celebrated and given substantial gifts. Images of those who complete the Varṣītap are often published in the newspapers as well.

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