One of the most vividly celebrated festival that you see in India is Navratri. Tons and tons of information is available in terms of the spirituality and the religious angle, but only few good articles focus on the scientific perspective of Navratri. I am sure you must have read it somewhere, but it was either vaguely collated or too deeply written that it bounced off. Today in this one to one connect I will try to cover why these 9 days are focused on changing the living lifestyle. Plus this is an exception, so this will be a short one.
This is mostly going to be from a perspective of food and fasting but to add a new dimension to this write up, I will also tell you what is the fundamental behind colours that are wore for 9 days. I know you are missing the garba celebration too much, but you also need to know it is a pandemic buddy. Whatever fun you want have will have to wait for a little longer.
To shock you a bit, this is going to be that rarest of blogs where we will discuss why to stay away from food. I think it is going to be tough, but I know you will read it for my sake. Lots of love from me to you for sticking around.
Understanding the Timing of Navratri
Did you know there are total 4 Navratri in a Hindu calendar year? Out of these the ‘Sharad Navratri’ is the most talked about and celebrated. There is one more Navratri which falls just at the beginning of summer season in India. These 2 Navratri fall in period of climatic transition. The Sharad Navratri occurs around the end of monsoon and when we are near winters in the Sharad rutu. The next important one is Vasant Navratri, which marks the spring season before summer.
The immense knowledge in the Vedas can be credited for emphasizing the celebration of these festivals on a juncture where the climatic changes take place. Going by the drastic damage that we are causing to the nature, I know that the climatic changes are very unpredictable these days. Then too the body follows a specific circadian rhythm which dictates the energy levels and its dispersal in our body.
Abstinence from Foods
As you know when there is a transition phase with respect to the climate, in general the body is vulnerable. The immunity is not at its optimum. This is said by so many people till date. I beg to differ a bit, from the years of observations that I had. The immunity of a person is pre-defined in the growing years. So irrespective of the climate changes, each person has a varied levels of immunity. The diet is a key player in maintaining immunity. So it becomes valid that in these so called weaker days of immunity people used to alter their diets.
One important thing many people miss here is, in older days the medical advances were not instant. They relied on Ayurveda which certainly takes its own time to show results or reduce symptoms. This is why, they used to abstain from certain foods in this Navratri phases. So that they could reduce any risk to their immunity. It was way easier than taking ayurvedic medicines, a simple change in diet solved the purpose. But as we have seen medicine progress and instant results due to active pharmaceutical ingredients, the people have become more risk taking with respect to any food consumption habits at any given time of the year.“We fast not to please the divine, but to cleanse our body.” – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Click To Tweet
Fasting is a personal choice. Undeniably it has proven health benefits. To do it during these climatic changes has its own advantages. With changing times and changing lifestyles very few people follow it and I absolutely feel that it should be a personal choice. God never told us to fast, it was practiced by the mortals to reach closer to God.
Even though you can opt out of fasting, you can try to stay away from heavy foods which are considered to increase ‘tamas’ and are called ‘tamsic’ in nature. You must be more aware of this word from the recent web series Sacred Games. The Tamsic foods are belived to increase tamas in a person, which is a summarization of darkness, ignorance and dullness.
So why fasting in Navratri?
Food is very much central to our existence. The belief behind fasting is, if you can abstain yourself from something which is so central, then you gain clarity on things that are unwanted in your life. It is just matter of 9 days, but to stay away from certain foods for certain duration teaches you many things. Some may look at it as a way of detoxifying, some consider it as a measure to lose weight. It might be from any perspective, but it aims at improving your life in the name of God. It improves willpower to have self-control.
Which foods to avoid?
Anything which is heavy should be avoided. Let us not go into the sattvik, rajasic or tamsic angle of this. The type of food includes, deep fried, eggs, meat, foods denser in carbohydrates, spicy food, processed food, alcohol and dairy items except milk. These foods put your digestive system under rigor which defeats the purpose of Navratri Fasting.
Which foods can be consumed?
The foods which are rich in antioxidants which will help you to cleanse your body of toxins. These foods include fruits, nuts, and some fermented foods, makhana, boiled of baked potatoes and so on. Remember the food should be easy to digest. Light eating saves your energy levels which otherwise could have been utilized in digesting the heavy food. The energy saved can then be utilized by you to focus on spiritual healing and meditation.
The Colours Connection
The colours are said to have a deeper connection with the 7 chakras in the body. Any imbalance in this chakras and you will have a disease or discomfort with your health and emotions. Each chakra controls certain physical, physiological and emotional flows and is associated with a particular colour. Though the chakras can be fairly balanced with a good diet but complimenting them with colours enhances the good effects.
1) Root Chakra (Muladhara) is associated with red colour and controls physical identity, stability and being grounded. This is at the end of your spinal cord. In the tailbone. Any issue with this chakra and the person might face problems like arthritis, colon issues, mental blockages related to trust and financial stress. Wearing red clothes and consuming red colored fruits can help in balancing this chakra. If it is already in balance then you can live with it and nothing should be changed.
Red coloured Foods: Beet, Tomato, Red Cabbage, Plum, Apple
2) Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana) is associated with orange colour which controls sexuality and creativity with pleasure. Located just below the belly and a little above the pubic bone. Any issues with this chakra can lead to UTI problems, lower back issues and fertility issues. The emotional side of this chakra controls self-worth, and pleasure. To balance this chakra, wearing orange clothes and eating orange color foods is recommended.
Orange coloured Foods: Pumpkin, Carrot, Orange, Apricot
3) Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) is associated with yellow colour which controls confidence levels and gut feelings. Located at upper abdominal area and is responsible for controlling digestive issues. Imbalance of this chakra leads to indigestion, acidity, and other eating disorders. So to align it, wearing yellow clothes and consuming yellow color foods is advised.
Yellow coloured Foods: Corn, Mango, Bell pepper
4) Heart Chakra (Anahata) is associated with green colour which controls the compassion and love feelings. It is located right where you are thinking about now, the centre of your rib cage, near your heart. If this chakra is imbalanced then the person might feel problems related to breathing, weight fluctuations. This controls emotions like security and belonging. To balance it out, one need to wear green clothes and eat green foods.
Green coloured Foods: Spinach, Cucumber, Green pea, Brocolli
5) Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) is associated with blue colour and controls the communication skills that one possess. Located at the throat region, it keeps the upper respiratory tract in control. Any issues with this chakra will lead to lack of clarity in spoken words, miscommunication and so on. The way to balance this is by wearing blue clothes and eating blue colour foods.
Blue coloured Foods: Blueberries, Purple cabbage, Raisin
6) Third Eye Chakra (Agya) is associated with indigo colour and controls the power of intuition and imagination. Located between eyebrows, it keeps control of head related health. Disruption in this chakra can lead to migraine, headache, and mental blockage. To align this one need to wear indigo colour clothes and eat indigo colour foods.
Indigo coloured Foods: Prune, Black Cherry, Black Berry
7) Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) is associated with violet and white which is said to influence awareness and intellect. Located at the very top of your head, it needs to function well to keep you away from any CNS issues. It may also lead to narrow-minded approach and skeptical behavior if out of balance. To balance this chakra you can wear violet and white clothes and eat foods which are violet and white in colour.
Violet coloured Foods: Eggplant, Passion Fruit, Sweet Potato
White coloured Foods: Cauliflower, Turnip, Mushroom, Nuts
The theory of chakra and food is in its nascent stages. A holistic study with a wide range of subjects is recommended before we reach to any conclusion. But I included it here because this speaks something in logic when we look at the science involved in Navratri traditions. These traditions are not aimed at changing the lifestyle for 9 days, but they intend to align your physical and mental form and help the body to be function optimally during the climatic changes.
I hope this post was informative and you learnt something from this. No matter how much I try to avoid detailing, but I end up writing more than 1500 words. Celebrating Navratri and respecting the traditions is a personal choice and I just want to follow the tips that are backed by science to lead a healthier life. People of all faiths are welcome to try this, especially the ones who believe in science.
With this your foodie_khiladi is signing off for the day. If you are here for the first time, then please check out my other blog posts on this link here. If you found this informative or would like to contribute more to this post with backed evidence then feel free to DM me on foodie_khiladi007. See you in my next post soon. Till then keep smiling and spreading the smiles.