Durga Puja, one of the famous festivals of the Bengalis, is observed with great religious fervor and enthusiasm in West Bengal and other parts of India. It is also celebrated in some parts of Europe and U.S. by the Bengali community residing there. During Durga Puja and Navratri, a famous festival of the Hindus which coincide with the former, the devotees go for fasting in their efforts to seek the divine blessings of Goddess Durga.
Fasting during Durga Puja and Navratri is conducted by people in West Bengal and Northern India.
The people perform a fast for around 7 days out of all the 9 days of Navratri.
The fast usually ends on Ashtami or Navami. The devotees consume only milk and fruits while observing Durga Puja fast.
Some devotees take only one meal on each day of Durga Puja fasting. This ritual is known as 'Ekana'. However, they are not allowed to consume non-vegetarian food and intoxicating items.
Some devotees observing the fast prefer sleeping on the floor so as to avoid the comfort of a bed. Men who fast during this festival are not allowed to shave until their fast is over.
There are devotees who sow barley seeds for the time period during which they observe a fast on the occasion of Durga Puja. They prepare a small pot with mud and sow barley seeds in it. The devotees then keep the pot in their puja room. They take special care of the seeds so as to help them grow up to a certain height. These seeds are later on offered to the deity.
A modern trend seen during Durga Puja fast is eating food items like 'vrat ki chat' and 'vrat ki namkeen' sold by stalls in big Indian cities. Sometimes, the devotees offer food to beggars after they end their fast. This is how Durga Puja fast and its rituals are observed.