KATHMANDU, July 29: Saraswoti and Sani Niraula are sisters studying at Sidheswari Secondary School in grade six. The two sisters, like their mother and sisters, are fasting in this holy month of Shrawan but they don’t know why they are actually doing it.
For Saraswoti, this is her second year of fasting but for Sani, it’s her first. Even though it’s her first time, she’s following all the norms very strictly. She gets up early in the morning, goes to the temple to offer her prayers, then gets ready for school and hits the road empty stomach on the day of the fast.
When she comes back home in the evening, until she offers her prayers again, she doesn’t eat and when she finally sits to eat, she makes sure that she doesn’t eat garlic, meat and onion.
“I am fasting because I want to excel in my studies,” says Sani. According to her, her elder sister also started fasting so she can do well in her studies.
Most of their friends in school are fasting too and their parents are not complaining or stopping them in any way. They are fasting because they want to and there have been no pressure as such from anyone.
Sanu Niraula, mother of Saraswoti and Sani, has been fasting every Monday in the month of Shrawan since the past 11 years and she says that she hasn’t forced her children to take it up.
“They can do whatever they feel like. It’s their wish at the end of the day,” she stresses.
20 years ago, Bishnu Sahani, 38, started fasting. After she got married, she continued with the fast for the betterment of her husband and sons. However, not everyone knows why they are fasting and the real meaning behind it.
Studying in Continental Academy School, Srijana wanted to fast but her mother threw the idea out of the window reasoning she would fall sick. When Srijana saw her friends fasting at school, she wanted to do it too.
“If not for this year, I will, for sure, fast next year,” opines Srijana, who doesn’t have an idea about the tradition of fasting.
Another student of Continental Academy, Ashmita Thapa, currently studying in grade three, is mimicking her sisters and neighbors and fasting this year.
On a Monday, she gets up in the morning, worships the Peepal tree and then leaves for school without eating anything donning green, red and yellow bangles.
Her hands are covered with the mehndi designs but she doesn’t know why she’s wearing the mehndi or the colorful bangles. “My mom bought me these and I just wore it,” she shares.
Even though Ashmita is fasting, when she sees her friends feasting at school during the lunch time, she feels like eating but she doesn’t. She eats only when the evening sets in with her father at home.
Learning from adults and fasting without knowing the reason behind it, doesn’t seem like a good idea as fasting can cause various problems.
According to Dr Jyoti Ratna Dhakpa, fasting can cause the body to lose a lot of calories which can lead to weakness, fainting and mental pressure, especially on school going children. Similarly, not eating during the day and only in the evening can hamper the memory power and also cause diarrhea, according to Dr Dhakpa.