Hey there dhammapal
I too am going to observe the Uposatha today...This is like my 9th time but only the second time that I've done away with the bed. I don't have a high or luxurious bed, but I figured might as well give the floor thing a try!
As far as I know, yes, monks are allowed to drink fruit juice, although I have also heard that it should be strained of any pulp. Beverages are supposedly okay as long as they don't contain what's construed to be "food", so for example you can have tea but no milk (so no chai for me!). Of course I've also heard that some monks will drink only regular water, and some think that since tea and coffee contain caffeine they should be avoided on the Uposatha, while others think they're just fine...especially if you plan to stay up all night meditating, which is apparently the norm. I personally stop eating after noon (or after lunch, sometimes I have to work and I can't take my lunch break until 12 or 12:30 pm). After that time, I usually just drink either water or maybe some Gatorade or tea. It's been so hot lately that cold drinks are really all I can stand. Since I try to meditate twice a day for an hour on Uposatha Days (instead of 30 minutes once day regularly), I've found that fasting keeps the body feeling less sluggish. And drinking water or Gatorade keeps me feeling full. I also try to study the Pali Canon more on these days, and maybe watch a Dhamma talk or two.
As far as the news goes, I think it was Bhikkhu Khantipalo in Lay Buddhist Practice
(which is available for free at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khantipalo/wheel206.html
) who said that for the Uposatha Day, part of keeping the Fourth Precept (refraining from false speech) is not paying attention to "worldly chatter", which means for just this day sort of switching off the news and not paying attention to the newspaper or internet news. If you want to read a book, read a Dhamma book....which sucks for me, because I'm in the middle of re-reading Moby-Dick
, and it's getting really good.
What a coincidence! Today is laundry day for me as well! I'll probably start re-reading What The Buddha Taught
, it's such a great book and it's been a while.
I hope today proves to be auspicious for both of us, as well as all Buddhists taking the Eight Precepts today