Navratri 2023: All You Need To Know About Fasting

Navratri 2023: All You Need To Know About Fasting

Though Devi’s love and blessings are prevalent always, if invoked, She is known to connect strongly during Navratri as Maa is dynamic and active during these nine nights

Gita HariUpdated: Saturday, October 14, 2023, 07:12 PM IST
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Though Devi’s love and blessings are prevalent always, if invoked, She is known to connect strongly during Navratri as Maa is dynamic and active during these nine nights. Throughout the country, many Hindus perform Devi puja on the nine days in her various avatars and observe fast during this period to seek Her blessings. Some observe sadhana or spiritual practices to please Goddess Durga.

Basically, fasting helps detox the system and maintain purity of mind and thoughts. It is a method of cleansing our body — improves heart and liver functions, reduces inflammation, oxidative pressure, and is also known to enhance nerve cell production in the brain.

Fasting days

Seasoned devotees do not hesitate to keep the most sacred vrat of nine days while beginners, senior citizens, and health-compromised devotees observe for two days or as it suits them.

Scientifically, it is a cleansing process as one gears up to counter the cold, winter months when the body tends to experience bloating, inflammation, low metabolism levels, loss of appetite and slow digestion. Partial observance involves breaking the vrat after evening puja. Staunch observers are known to keep ‘nirjal’ (without even water) or ‘nirahar’ (absolutely no solids) upvas.

Rules of upvas/fasting

In some cases, those who wish to keep upvas are not aware of what kind of food to consume and end up doing it haphazardly. It is most important to abstain from pulses, grains, salt and non-vegetarian dishes.

The rules for vrat may vary in different communities and regions. People fromthe North (Punjab), UP and Rajasthan opt for puris made of kuttu/shingare ka atta and  potato subzi, while Maharashtrians settle for sabudana khichdi and wadas, and Tamilians refrain from onion, rice and coffee.

Sattvik food is recommended during vrat. Tamasic food consists of egg, onion, garlic, meat, and those including processed and packaged food have to be refrained from having. Home-cooked meals, eaten in limited quantity, helps one concentrate and focus on spiritual evolvement.

Rituals

An early morning bath is a part of the ritual. This has to be followed by lighting diya, worshipping, offering prayers, fruits, and bhog to Goddess. Even though certain foods are allowed for those fasting, it is necessary to limit one’s consumption of the same, during upvas. To skip episodes of tension and anxiety, switch coffee with green or herbal teas.

All varieties of fruits are allowed. To stay hydrated, milk and dairy products like buttermilk, lassi, or curd can be included provided the salt used is senda namak or rock salt.

Vrat favourites are puris made of buckwheat atta (kuttu), water chestnut flour (shingara atta), sabudana (sago) khichdi, potato (farali), bottle gourd (lauki) and pumpkin. 

Herbs and spices

There are certain spices that are allowed to be taken by upvas keepers. Cumin, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, tamarind, ajwain, anar dana and nutmeg can be included while pungent spices like methi, mustard, garam masala, haldi, hing, red chilli powder, chaat masala, amchur powder are to be avoided. Despite grains and some of the avoidable ingredients being sattvik in nature, because they generate heat in the body, draw and absorb negative energies, they are kept away from Navratri fast. Among herbs and veggies — coriander leaves, curry leaves, mint and vegetables like brinjal, mushroom, onion, garlic, fall in the Don’ts category.

How to break the fast

It is quite common among devotees to fast in one half of the day and have one simple meal in the other half. One can break the fast in between too, if s/he feels any discomfort, anxiety or encounters any unavoidable situation, or even in the normal course of completion of observation, but one has to follow certain guidelines in all the cases.

Break the fast with water, fresh fruits or diluted juice (no added sugar). Curd may be included along with some light food, for instance, a bowl of green salad. Gradually, as one builds up a better appetite, one may start eating small portions of vegetables, grains and lentils. It is necessary to keep it light, eat small portions and not overload the digestive system.

Sabudana Kedgeree Waffles & Cucumber Yogurt Spaghetti

Ingredients:

Method:

To prepare Cucumber Yogurt Spaghetti: Shred the thick part of the cucumber into thin, long spaghetti-like strands. Season with salt and mix it with hung yogurt.

Soak the sago pearls and set them aside for 20 minutes. Saute aromatics and cashews. In a pan, heat ghee and add chopped green chillies and jeera. Add cashew bits and shredded sweet potatoes. Mix in the soaked sago pearls. Season the mixture with sugar and salt to taste

Prep waffle tray: Baste a waffle tray with ghee.

Assemble the spread: Place the prepared kedgeree on the waffle tray. Cover the lid and heat it till you get crisp sabudana waffle.

(Recipe by Chef Shailendra Kekade, Santé Spa Cuisine, Pune)

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