Different Types of Vrats Performed by Hindus•
Posted on October 21 2021
According to Hindu scriptures, a Vrat is a religious rite or a vow observed by an individual. The Vrat is often be accompanied by several other rites such as elaborate prayers, a visit to a temple, or an act of charity. Often, the Vrat is observed by Hindus by women although some men also observe this practice. The most popular vrat entails abstinence from food for a specific time period. However, there are other kinds of vrats that are observed like Moun vrat where the person remains silent and does not converse with anyone during the stipulated duration.
Read on to the different types of vrats observed by Hindus and why they are practiced.
With and Without Expectation
A vrat done with an expectation in order to have any desire fulfilled is called a Sakam vrat. The various Tantra and Purana texts mention the several worships that are done to fulfill one’s desires. This type of vrat is incidental worship and usually carried out only on an auspicious day of the week at an auspicious moment.
Some common types of Sankam vrat are mentioned here.
- Dharma (Spiritual Practice) – This vrat involves chanting the name of one’s favorite lord, reading a holy book such as the Bhagavad Gita for a week, and so on.
- Artha (Wealth) – This vrat is done by a person with the intention of gaining wealth.
- Kama (Fulfilling Desires) – This vrat is performed with the expectation of a specific desire being fulfilled such as being blessed with a progeny or to overcome the planetary defects due to Saturn.
- Moksha (Final Liberation) – This vrat is carried out to get salvation from rebirth and is done on sixteen consecutive Mondays.
A vrat done without any expectation is called a Niksham vrat. There are no worldly life expectations when this vrat is performed. There is no desire to even attain moksha.
Regular and Incidental
A regular vrat, as the name indicates, is performed regularly. This vrat is usually done on a daily basis. Some examples are doing sandhya chants in the evening or performing poojas.
An incidental vrat is done only on a specific thiti or a special occasion. Examples of such vrats are those done on Karwa Chauth and Ganesh Chaturti.
Based on Need
There are three kinds of vrats based on need. The first kind is the most essential vrat and is performed as penance. The second kind is the essential vrat and is carried out as a code of conduct or as a sense of duty. The third kind is the voluntary vrat and is undertaken based on the preferences of the individual.
According to Various Levels
These vrats are performed at a physical level, a verbal level or a mental level. At the physical level, the vrat entails eating only one meal in a day, observing a fast, practising non-violence and the like. At the verbal level, the vrat is performed by saying only the truth, chanting a mantra dedicated to one’s preferred deity, speaking politely to others and so on. At the mental level, the vrat involves observing certain acts and control over emotions such as practising celibacy and control over anger.
According to Time
These vrats are observed at a specific time and is usually between the first day in the bright fortnight of the moon (Pratipada) and the seventh or eighth day of the Hindu lunar fortnight (Saptami or Ashtami). The most popular vrats are:
- Mas Vrat – Performed in a specific month like Magh, Kartik, Vaishakh and Bhadrapad
- Paksh Vrat – Performed in the dark or bright fortnight of a month
- Tithi Vrat – Performed on the fourth, eleventh or thirteenth day of a Hindu lunar month as well as new moon day or Bhanusaptami
- Var Vrat – Performed on a specific day of the week and is often a Friday, Saturday, Monday or Tuesday
- Nakshatra Vrat – Performed during constellations and is primarily observed when the Shravan, Rohini and Anuradha constellations are dominant.
Based on Deity
These vrats are observed in honour of one’s favourite deity. Such vrats include Ganesh Vrat, Shiva Vrat, Saibaba Vrat and similar vrats.
The reference to vrats was first made in the Vedas. Rig Veda, the oldest Veda, highlights five categories of Vedas that are collectively known as Pancha Vrata. Most vrats are a simple affair and do not require the person observing it to prepare beforehand for the same. In simple terms, a vrat represents self-sacrifice where the practitioner sacrifices their own comforts for a greater cause.
Written by Deepthi K