Here is a short list of religions that observe fasting (physically abstaining from food and drink) as a part of their practice and why they do it.
In Judaism, Jews are obliged to observe Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av by fasting, along with observing around 7 other minor fasts which are all important to them. Yom Kippur however is the most popular and known one.
Jews firmly believe that fasting is a form of physical discipline which their bodies should encounter to convert it into good and positive ethical behaviour.
Yom Kippur is also titled as the Day of Atonement; it is not only the most popular day of fasting but also the holiest day in the Jewish religion. Yom Kippur is concluded with 25 hours of fasting performed from sundown of the previous day to nightfall on the next day.
Tisha B’Av like Yom Kippur is observed over 25 hours. During between the holiday for three weeks Jews engage in prayers, mourning and fasting in remembrance of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple.
In Islam Muslims are required to fast during the Holy month of Ramadan, where they abstain from consuming food and drink from sunrise to sunset for the duration of 30 days. However, there are few minor fasts that Muslims are suggested to observe however they are not obligatory.
The fasting they engage in is known as Sawm and during this period they also abstain from other factors such sexual relations and negative thoughts etc.
Muslims believe that fasting is a form of inner self purification and helps them avoid engaging in sinful acts. Also teaches them self-control and how to be appreciative of what God has blessed them with.
Within Buddhism all Buddhists engage and practice fasting for certain durations of time.
Buddhists believe that fasting is a method that leads to implementation of self-discipline and self-control and engaging in it is highly suggested.
Fasting is often observed during the duration of time from noon to coming dawn of the following day.
Bahai’s engage in fasting for numerous reasons however all reasons are spiritually linked. The fasting commences during the Bahai month known as Ala, which occurs after Ayyam-i-Ha (the intercalary Days).
This significant practice is performed over a 19-day period where all adult of the faith fast from dawn to dusk each day.
The Bahai faith teaches that fasting conveys one’s humility and submission to God’s will. It is a time where spiritual rejuvenation is most prioritised and is aided with fasting, prayer and meditation.
Nobody in the Bahai faith is forced to fast however it is an action of willingness and submission to God so they can prosper spiritually.
Hindus engage in fasting as indicating factor of denial to all physical wants and needs of the body for the purpose of prospering in spirituality. They believe it helps towards the creation of an established harmonious relationship of the union of the body and soul.
Just like many other religions that observe fasting it is seen as form of self-discipline. It is a type of training the individual should engage in as it helps their mind and body to harden up and be able to endure whatever hardships that may occur.
There are many different occasions where Hindus fast, the most common are during moon days and festivals like Puja, Saraswati, Navaratri and Shivarati. Some Hindus also fast on different days of the week to please certain Gods. The duration of the fast is usually between the time of sunrise to sunset.
Catholic Christians only observe fasting during allotted times. Fasting can be seen as demonstration of submission to the Holy power above them.
The allotted fasting periods are during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. They also do a form of abstaining from meat on all Fridays during Lent.
A form of self-discipline and personal development is obtained due to the individuals personal sacrifice for worship of God.
Churches encourage Christians to obtain this key feature of Holy Christ’s personality so that they are grateful and aware of the sufferings which others go through.
Nearly all religions in the world observe fasting as a religious practice especially spotlighting the benefit it has for self-discipline and appreciation.