A festival full of enthusiasm, devotion and happiness. It is said that Goddess Durga fought a war against the demon Mahishasur for 9 days and became victorious. Due to this glorious victory, Goddess Durga is looked upon as a symbol of power. To celebrate this triumphant spirit, people all over India celebrate this festival of nav(nine) ratri(nights).
We Indians are endowed with a number of festivals and we celebrate each one of them in different ways.Navaratri has its own unique style of celebration as well. This festival is popular for fasting for 9 days and the traditional ‘Dandiya/ Garba’ dance. It is surprising to know that both of them have several health benefits.
In Sanskrit, fasting is called ‘UPVAS’ ( उपवास ) meaning ‘Staying close to the God’. And what we interpret from the word fasting is not eating food or eating only certain kinds of food. Now, this misunderstanding has really created numerous superstitions and misconceptions around the concept of fasting.
In a scientific point of view, there can be two purposes of this ritual of fasting:
a. Giving little rest to our digestive system
b. Reducing cooking time and daily chores so that men and women will get more time to worship God
Now, since we have reinterpreted this, we need to re-evaluate our belief systems and try to bring out the necessary changes.
As per science, intermittent fasting has some proven benefits. But to reap maximum health benefits out of Fasting following tips can be useful:
Drink plenty of fluids like water, Coconut water, lemon juice, kokam sharbat.
In some communities, delicacies prepared from roasted grains are consumed (popularly called DHANYAFARAL). This is a good practice as roasting improves digesting capacity of the grains.
Eat plenty of seasonal fruits, as they give you instant energy and many essential vitamins and minerals, while the fibers in the fruits help you to control hunger pangs.
Milk and Milk products suffice your protein and calcium needs. You can add dry fruit powder or turmeric to add flavor.
Curds and buttermilk are better to digest and also keep you hydrated.
Dates, Apricots are the small packets of energy. Always carry them to munch in between.
Apart from this, Rajgeera, Makhane, water-chestnut (Shingada) are very good sources of energy and Bcomplex vitamins . They add a great variety in your meals
Sweet potato is a super food and best alternative for potatoes and sago. Diabetic patients can consume it as well. If sautéed in ghee, it becomes even more nutritious and delicious. One can also add this in ‘khichdi’ to make it more nutritious
Some healthy fasting snacks:
1. Sauted Sweet potato
2. Dry fruits
3. Rajgeera and date rolls
4. Fruit salad in curd
5. Fruit milkshakes or smoothies
6. Waterchestnut (Shingada flour) porridge
2. Garba/ Dandiya:
Garba is the best workout planned for these 9 days. Garba has overenthusiastic fans on a large scale. To maintain stamina at its fullest potential, following tips may help:
1. Eat pulpy fruits like Banana, Papaya or dry fruits like Dates half an hour before garba, which will keep you energetic throughout the session.
2. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
3. Choose easily digestible food dishes for dinner (E.g. Khichdi- kadhi or Fruit salad or fruits in curd or rajgeera in milk if you are fasting ) as garba gatherings are generally late in the night.
So are you set?
You all are now ready to celebrate this festival with new vision and spirit. Eat right and stay on the track while following traditions.
MSC-ND, Certified Diabetes Educator
Founder of The Green Punch