Today was the naagara chavithi and followed by garuda panchami tomorrow. This is on 4th and 5th day of the month of shravana and it comprises of mainly worshiping snake (cobra) by pouring milk, pure water, on a snake idol. Where facilities available, people go over to the huththa (snake pit?) and pour milk as part of the religious worship. At homes, some people use the mud and make a fort kind of model, and prepare a little model of snake with Rice flour. There is more information available on wikipedia [link] [link2].
As observed and was told, people do not prepare any food that need to be fried, and not even the thadka (Oil and mustard fry), no Dosas nor fry any vegetables in oil. some people also fast for the entire day avoiding cooked food, fried food including cooked vegetables. Some are mostly on raw fruits and vegetables.
I understand some of these, however what keeps me puzzled is about fasting and not eating cooked rice or cooked vegetables. People who can’t eat raw vegetables would just fast all day. When asked I usually get a response “people who offer milk and worship lord of snakes should not eat boiled/cooked food, no spices, no salt, etc” –> apparently, if they have any medical condition where they need to take timely medicine, they would skip medicine for that day. I am not convinced with that aspect. They are ok drinking coffee through out the day. Unfortunately, no one knows the name of the document or shastras / puranas that say not take care of yourself and fast for days.
Readers: do you happen to know of any pointers that helps me go and read about? I am keen on understanding the significance or importance of fasting on such days. Any medical or scientific reasons behind?
On another note, I have heard and read about Ekaadashi (11th day) for fasting. and I have also heard about the medical reason for doing so to let the system (body) clean up release toxins consumed with all the cooked food, oil/greasy stuffs, fat, etc etc to be burnt away. But what is it behind fasting (completely and not just a lunch/dinner)?