The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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(450 words)

Traditional fasting practices are to be found in nearly all religions. In many tribal cultures, fasting is practiced before hunting, to avert natural catastrophes (solar eclipses, storms), before a battle, or as a sign of mourning. Fasting is generally regarded as a means of repelling insalubrious powers, or ‘evil,’ or of calling upon the good powers. It is practiced before the celebration of rites of initiation, as part of a fertility rite, or for the observance of the new year. In literate cul…

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von Braun, Christina, “Fasting”, in: The Brill Dictionary of Religion, Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad. Consulted online on 21 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124332, 20051223

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