So navratri gets over today and my battle with the family to ensure that they stay vegetarian during these 9 days also ends today. It’s a twice yearly battle, that I am happy to report, I seem to be winning…
But why am I such a stickler for this rule? In my parents’ home, I grew up with a strong religious belief in devi mata and thanks to that, today, I manage to draw a lot of strength from her energies – to keep going through tough times (everyone faces them right!). She is my anchor; she helps me find answers to my issues simply by ensuring that I focus on them positively when I pray to her. And it works for me! Science says the same right: look ‘within’ to find solutions. And pure praying (minus distractions) is just a way of channeling our internal strength constructively. That’s the mechanism God has worked out I feel, to help-us help-ourselves. Besides, optimism (that there is someone looking out for you) always helps!
So obviously navratri has a huge significance in my life and is a time for me to reaffirm my belief, values and conviction in higher power. Here I have no shame in accepting that it’s all about me; it’s a selfish relationship that I have with God – I am the gainer all the way.
Now coming to the reason for this post: my reasons for following the food rituals (I fast for two days (earlier it was all days) and turn strict vegetarian for the entire duration) are two pronged. They do have a religious basis, after all I am conditioned so, but I also believe that they have a solid scientific rationale behind them, and are completely logical.
A. This process helps one become more aware of what one eats as we are forced to ‘look’ at food and think before deciding what to eat (or not). We all need to do this every now and then. It also serves as a welcome break from the kind of eat and run lifestyles we all tend to live these days. Plus it’s a refresher course in self discipline. Telling ourselves: no you can’t eat this (and sticking to it) is a good exercise. It helps wake up our rusty and jaded willpower too.
B. Fasting helps rest and unburden the body (and its systems), lets it heal, refresh and refurbish from within and thus help cleanse it too (a natural detox if you please!).
C. Also have you noticed that both the Navratras come during season change: from winter to summer and again when the air just begins to get nippy – and our immunity is at a low. Which is why avoiding processed food, meat, going gluten free (no grains), salt free, and having lots of fruits and vegetables actually helps our bodies pass this trying time (physiologically) with ease. Smart eh!
So do it for whatever reason – follow the logic, or tie it up to religious connotations, but this is one break I feel which can do all of us good. That’s why I am glad I am able to enforce it in my home (at least till now).
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She contributes to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan