Port Louis, Mauritius, 2 March 2014,
The Baha’i Fast lasts for 19 days, from March 2nd to 20th. In the Baha’i calendar this period corresponds to the month of Ala, (meaning Loftiness), the last month of the Baha’i year. During this period, adult Baha’is — with the exception of those who are elderly, sick, travelling, or engaging in heavy labour, and women who are nursing or pregnant — abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset.
Fasting is the cause of awakening man. The heart becomes tender and the spirituality of man increases. This is produced by the fact that man’s thoughts will be confined to the commemoration of God, and through this awakening and stimulation surely ideal advancements follow… Fasting is of two kinds, material and spiritual. The material fasting is abstaining from food or drink, that is, from the appetites of the body. But spiritual, ideal fasting is this, that man abstain from selfish passions, from negligence and from satanic animal traits. Therefore, material fasting is a token of the spiritual fasting. That is: `O God! As I am fasting from the appetites of the body and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and make holy my heart and my life from aught else save Thy Love, and protect and preserve my soul from self-passions… Thus may the spirit associate with the Fragrances of Holiness and fast from everything else save Thy mention.
Abdu’l-Bahá Star of the West vol. 3, p. 305