All significant feasts of the Church are preceded by a period of preparation. We generally call this period of preparation as a “fast”. Experience says we work on our human and spiritual lives by refraining from sin (make a good confession), doing a work of charity, a change in diet to open our senses, mind and body to the work of God’s grace in us. Also, there is a more prayer –not just saying prayers– but time in silence listening to God’s voice. A fast may include reading a good spiritual book (a recommendation may be received from your parish priest). The Fast is meant to help us work on our salvation in a wholistic way.
The tradition of our Church teaches the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos (the Dormition) took place at the house of John the Evangelist. It is with John that the All-Holy Virgin lived her later days; it is also said that she there with his brother James and their mother Salome who was related to the Theotokos. This point was revealed by her Son as he hung from the Cross (John 19:26-27).
The Dormition feast on August 15 is the Lord’s manner of telling us that what happened to His Mother is offered to us: communion with the Holy Trinity when we die, if we are properly prepared.
Here is a Melkite Guide to the Dormition Fast that prepares us for the great feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos.
Likewise, here is a link to pray the Akathist at home.