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“The Caturmasya period begins in the month of Ashadha (June-July) from the day of Ekadasi called Sayana-ekadasi, in the fortnight of the waxing moon. The period ends in the month of Kartika (October-November) on the Ekadasi day known as Utthana-ekadasi, in the fortnight of the waxing moon. This four-month period is known as Caturmasya.
Some Vaishnavas also observe it from the full-moon day of Ashadha until the full-moon day of Kartika. That is also a period of four months. This period, calculated by the lunar months, is called Caturmasya, but others also observe Caturmasya according to the solar month from Sravana to Kartika. The whole period, either lunar or solar, takes place during the rainy season. Caturmasya should be observed by all sections of the population. It does not matter whether one is a grihastha or a sannyasi. The observance is obligatory for all asramas. The real purpose behind the vow taken during these four months is to minimize the quantity of sense gratification. This is not very difficult. In the month of Sravana one should not eat spinach, in the month of Bhadra one should not eat yogurt, and in the month of Asvina one should not drink milk. One should not eat fish or other nonvegetarian food during the month of Kartika. A nonvegetarian diet means fish and meat. Similarly, masura dal and urad dal are also considered nonvegetarian. These two dals contain a great amount of protein, and food rich in protein is considered nonvegetarian. On the whole, during the four-month period of Caturmasya one should practice giving up all food intended for sense enjoyment.
(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita. Madhya-lila 4.169. purport.)
Urja vrata – means restricting eating.
The term “spinach” in India refers to green leafy vegetables of that nature.
The yogurt fast is fasting from eating yogurt by itself. Yogurt used as a binding agent for cake is not included.
Milk fast means refrain from drinking milk. Milk sweets, milk by-products are okay.
In the fourth (last) month, Ashvin Shukla Dashami to Kartik Shukla Dwadashi one should not partake dicotyledon grains (grains breaking in two parts) like gram, tur urad, masur etc., Similarly, one should not eat fruits or vegetables containing lot of seeds. This also applies to tubors as ordained. Thus reason for making a list of prohibited items seperately for each of the four months is in the nature of dietary discipline, and declared as daily regimen (“Nityavrata”) by the scriptures.
During Festivals of the Lord (ie Balaram’s App, Sri Krishna Janmastami, Radhastami, etc) all preparations are offered to the Lord and chaturmasya vrata of restrictive honouring of even foods in the above categories does not apply. (yes one can honour Urid dal kachoris that have been offered to Srila Prabhupad on his Tirubhav)
Also during the Purushottam Adika masa there is no observance of chaturmasya.
Chaturmasya means “four months”, which is the duration that Vishnu sleeps.
Ekadasi, Asadha 11 (July 20, 2002). The time the Vishnu goes to sleep for four months.
Naga Panchami, Sravana 5 (Aug 12, 2002). The cobras are appeased at this festival, which is dedicated to the serpent Ananta (aka Sesha?), on whose coils Vishnu rested when he created the universe.
“Vishnu lies on Ananta”, Bhadra 14 (Sept 19, 2002). Celebration of Vishnu lying on the cobra Ananta. [same as Sharad Purnima?]
“Vishnu wakes”. eleven days after new moon in [Agrahayana]. Vishnu wakes.
First month of Caturmasya: In the month of Sravana one should not eat spinach.
Second month of Caturmasya: In the month of Bhadra one should not eat yogurt
Third month of Caturmasya: In the month of Asvina: Fasting from Milk for one month.
Fourth month of Caturmasya: In the month of Kartika: no masura dal and urad dal.