Navaratri or Navadurga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Shakti, conceptualized as the Mother Goddess-Durga. There is also a scientific significance to this festival apart from its religious significance.
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are important junctions of climatic changes. It is during this period that our forefathers suggested fasting as a method to cleanse our body.
However, the process of fasting is more religiously skewed and may vary from person to person. While most of the people fast for all the nine days, some fast for the first two days or the last two days. Some eat only one time during the day and some eat only specific things throughout the day in small portions.
The Nine Day Diet Plan
No matter what your reason is, and how long you fast, you must do it right. Here is how you can eat right during the nine days:
Start with 3-4 glasses of water (in intervals if it is not easy to drink) as soon as you get up. This helps you get rid of toxins in the body. After 15 minutes, eat almonds and walnuts followed by your normal bed tea or better, herbal tea.
Have a bowl full (or quarter plate) of mixed fruits and have a glass of milk boiled in mulethi or licorice. Licorice has amazing heath benefits and helps in naturally treating sore throat, chest congestion, strengthening of bones and muscles, kidney problems, bronchitis, mouth ulcers, hair loss, etc to name a few. You can also have yogurt as a substitute for milk. Having the same breakfast for nine days can bore you with the lack of choices. Mix it up! Have a nice and healthy potato chaat by mixing two boiled potatoes, a tomato and the juice of one whole lemon. You can also have a cup of makhana, mixed with tomatoes, curd, green chilies and peanuts. This is extremely rich in protein and helps you get a great start for the rest of the day.
Keep your body hydrated through out the day. If drinking water can get monotonous, have small portions of citrus fruits, a glass of green tea with honey, coconut water or lemonade as alternatives.
Have a chapati made from kuttu aata or one kuttu aata cheela, with generous portion of vegetable like pumpkin or bottle guard. You can also have potato instead of the former if you do not have the taste, but try to mix it up in the nine days. A cup of raita and salad is a must no matter what your choice of vegetable is. Avoid poori and paranthas during this period. Alternatively those who are fond of rice can have a bowl of rice with vegetables cooked in light gravy (no to very less oil). Have curd with grated cucumber too.
Have a cup of tea with two whole cups of makhana (puffed rice). Add peanuts and roasted chips in the bowl for some taste. You can also have potato chaat as an alternative.
Dinner has to be the lightest meal of the day irrespective of a fast. Have a nice paneer tikka (home made) made from 125 gms of cottage cheese. Alternatively, you can have a bowl of sabutdana khichdi. If you feel the above recipes can make your stomach feel heavy, just have 2 boiled potatoes and saute them. Have a cup of raita along with the potato. You can also have boiled vegetables with a cup of raita.
Finish your day with a nice warm cup of green tea or fruits or a cup of warm milk
Benefits of this diet
Navratri fasting is very beneficial for our body. Apart from the obvious reason that we can lose some extra weight, here are some added benefits:
- Kuttu aata is extremely rich in iron, vitamin, protein and reduces bad cholesterol from the body.
- Helps to detoxify the system and flush the toxins from the body.
- Keeps the body hydrated and not feel weak.
- To boost the immune system of the body.
- To be better prepared for the changing weather.
Things to keep in mind
- Liquid or fruit diets are not a great idea to keep for nine days. a 1-2 day diet can comprise an entire fruit diet.
- Never start your day with citrus fruits (have a banana or an apple) irrespective of your diet plan as it causes acidity.
- Do not live on only water as part of a diet. This will make you feel weak, develop head aches and low sugar. Instead of detoxification, your body will be low on energy.
- With a “eating as less as possible” diet plan, you tend to over eat at night. This makes one put on a lot weight during the fasting. I hope the above plan was easy to follow. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section and I will address them.
Happy Navratri to all of you!