A Vratas may be described as days of fasting and prayer. Such Vratas are observed by the Hindus according to the methods prescribed by the texts, particularly the Puranas, which exclusively deal with rituals, their origin and the benefits that accrue from their observance.
In the observance of Vratas the days are spent in fasting and praying and the performers keep absolute abstention from cooked food. It is believed that observance of Vratas has enabled the depraved sinners obtain salvation and poor wretches gold and diamonds.
According to the religious scriptures, with the influence of Vratas the soul gets purified and the will power strengthens. In the Niruktas, Vrata has been defined as action or Karma. Different religious scriptures have defined in different ways the kinds of vrata. To one section there are three types of vratas: physical (Kayik), vocal (Vachika) and mental (Maniska).
There are five such vratas in the Hindu religion which shall be compulsorily observed by the devotees. These are called Panchmahavratas which include:
This is famous as Samrat Vikram. It is said, that Lord Brahma began the creation of Nature on this very day.
(ii) Ram Navami:
This is celebrated in the first month of the Hindu calendar, i.e. on the ninth of the month of Chaitra.
(iii) Krishna Janmashtami:
It falls on the eighth day of the month of Shravan, i.e. fifth month of the Hindu calendar.
It is celebrated on the fourteen day of the month Phalguna of Hindu Calendar.
It is observed on the tenth day of the bright half i.e. shukla paksha, of the eighth month of Hindu calendar named Bhadraprda.