My mother is a religious woman. She doesn’t miss any festivals or fastings in a year. No matter how her health is, she always celebrates and worships God on different auspicious occasions. But even during the fast, she makes sure to take her medications on time, and this is something I truly admire about her. She believes in the fact that she can worship God only if she is fit enough. And to be fit, she shouldn’t miss out on her medicines, no matter what.
However, this is not true with many people as they put medicines under the group of foods that shouldn’t be consumed while observing a fast. A male friend of mine who observes Roza declined to take pills for headaches even though it was getting worse every minute. This was just a brief discomfort to the body, a severe one nonetheless, but imagine what if a person who is suffering from chronic illness refuses to take daily medications throughout their term of fasting. Will it not impact their health? Is observing religious practices at the cost of health worth it?
Skipping medicines during fast: A common practice
This issue especially impacts women more, as they must go through with their daily routine of performing childcare and household duties while observing fasts. Besides, women are conditioned to put their needs, health and comfort very low on their priority list, due to which we are exceptionally careless about managing their health issues. A combination of all these factors, and more, could have ill consequences for women, in cases when they are suffering from any chronic illness.
Gynaecologist and women’s healthcare specialist, Dr Sudeshna Ray spoke to SheThePeople about skipping pills during fasts and said, “Some medicines like supplements and antibiotics are okay to be skipped. But if it is a hormonal, diabatic or other chronic illness’ medicine, they have to be taken on time. Time-specific doses are very essential. For example, if you miss hormonal medicines, it can cause a disbalance in your body.”
Dr Ray also added that observing fasts doesn’t harm women’s health, but neglect to overall health does. “Women are not losing their health because they fast. The general awareness and consciousness regarding their welfare are low. They value religious rituals (which are conducted for the welfare of others) more than themselves. So not putting their health at the forefront while fasting is what affects women’s health, not fasting itself. Women lack a sense of self-responsibility.”
According to me, taking pills even during fasts is a way to make your devotion to God even stronger and more consistent. You can observe these rituals with a happy and healthy body. And I am sure even Gods wouldn’t want you to sacrifice yourself to make them happy. We need to understand the fact that medications for some diseases are simply unavoidable and for the sake of our loved ones and our own health, we need to prioritise them and ensure that our religious beliefs do not discourage us from taking them.
I am not trying to suggest that you should be dependent on medicines or that it is not your choice how you want to worship your God. It is just that any religious devotion done at the cost of one’s well being could also bear a cost for your loved ones- the very people for whom you might be fasting. If there are medicines you can drop for a few days and still be fine, then there is no problem. But the medicines that are important for your regular functioning should not be missed. The Almighty gave us this body and they wouldn’t certainly appreciate us trying to harm it deliberately by overlooking our medical needs.
Image Credit: Yogendra Singh/Unsplash
The views expressed are the author’s own.