The Holy City is preparing, as Navratri is around the corner with 9 days of festivities beginning at the end of this month. The fast will begin in India on 29th September 2019 and will go on till 7th October 2019. Endowed with a great significance, it is one of the festivals of the Hindu tradition that is celebrated twice in a year, with great fanfare. “Nava”- meaning ‘Nine’ and “Ratri”- meaning ‘Night’, this literally means the Nine Nights of Divinity. These nine nights and days are dedicated to worshipping Goddess Durga’s nine divine forms. Apart from showering offerings to the Goddess, it is also a common practice for devotees to observe ritualistic fasting to mark the Navratri celebrations. Some observe these fasts on all the nine days while some keep fasts on the first and last day of Navratri.
This festival also marks the symbolic journey from humanness to divinity thereby reminding people of the real goal of human life. Being a mark of victory of good over evil, this nine-day festival culminates on the tenth day which is the day of victory and success. “Maa Durga” is considered as the ultimate source of power or chief deity who takes care of the entire universe and feeds it. Regarded as the feminine principle of divinity, the nine forms of Mother Goddesses are heralded, worshiped and adorned on these days. The Navratri festival glorifies the eternal power of Durga and seeks her blessing and protection.
As per the legend, there was a demon called Mahishasura who was a terror to all the three worlds. As per the boons he had received, he could not be killed by any Gods, humans or demons except the feminine energy, which he underestimated to be insufficient to vanquish him. To save all the worlds from his captivity, Mother Durga, assumed a terrific form and waged a war against him for nine days and killed him on the tenth day. Therefore, worshipping Mother Durga on these nine days is said to end all our sorrows and confer joy, prosperity, wealth, hope, wisdom, success and lasting happiness.
Ideally, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of different facets of Mother Durga, the second three days herald Mother Lakshmi and the last three days are in praise of Mother Saraswati – the three energies that rule over the universe and do the creation, sustenance, and destruction. The final day is also called as Vijayadasami on which Mother Durga won over the demon. Any tasks started on this day is said to be successful. Thus, this festival drives home the message of heralding divinity, realizing the true purpose of life, demonstrating gratitude and sense of charity and several other values.
Besides worshipping deities, Navratri festival also means the observance of a strict Vegetarian-(Sattvic Food) but a healthy diet especially for the people who observe fast. People completely shun non-vegetarian food. One is expected to eat only pure vegetarian food and the food prepared for fasting must be cooked without adding onion and garlic, and even the use of regular salt is completely avoided and only rock salt is used.
Scientifically, it is believed to be good to eat only Vegetarian food during these days as food items like alcohol, meat, onion, garlic etc is believed to be aggressive food items that can raise the body temperature. Also, according to Ayurveda, such foods absorb negative energies and hence, should be avoided as our bodies already have lower immunity system during this season change. According to the spiritual leaders and holy books, fasting is the act of sanctification that establishes harmonious coordination between body, mind, and soul. So it is preferred to be under simple and strict vegetarian diet for, at least, these 9 days.
When fasting, one resorts to eating only fasting-approved ingredients like sabudana (tapioca balls), kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour), makhana (fox nuts), etc. We do understand that it can get a bit monotonous after a while to eat the same food for 9 days but believe me, it is so much you can experiment and cook delicacies with the vrat special ingredients too. Let me tell you, this food is no doubts, vegetarian and bit different from the food that we eat the rest of the days but it is equally nutritious.
Well, let’s take a look at some of the amazing and popular food items that are different, healthy and nutritious at the same time:
Loaded with good quality starch and carbohydrates, sabudana acts as an instant energy booster during these fasts. Sabudana khichdi made of tapioca pearls, also known as sago khichdi in the Southern part of the country, is one of the most relished Vrat dishes during Navratri fasting. Being low in fat and protein, you can spruce it up with peanuts, fresh coriander, and mild spices. It has a cooling effect on our body and is easy to digest.
Being rich in proteins, B-complex vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese, it is also packed with high fiber that helps in detoxification of the body. Also, these fibers help to keep hunger pangs at bay thereby, making us crave less while fasting. Accompaniments to Aloo Bhaji – (dish of Potatoes), it lifts up our energies and is considered as one of the common and favorite Vrat food.
Yet another energy booster, that contains a high amount of fiber, B-complex vitamins and important minerals like iron and magnesium, Sama Chawal can be a perfect replacer for rice as it tastes almost similar to broken brown rice when cooked. Combined well to make a wholesome pulao that tastes best with aloo kadhi, kaddu ki sabzi or lauki ki sabzi.
Kudos to this one ingredient who fits in all – whether fasting or normal days. It’s the Potato. This is something we love to savor round the year. In lieu of, legumes and lentils, ingredients like potatoes are permissible. The soothing flavors of this lovely curry made with light spices will have you licking your fingers.
A complete change from the usual leafy vegetables that we make for lunch! ‘’Colocasia’ is a great summer vegetable that is quite versatile. Made with mild spices at home, this food goes well and liked by all during navratris. Rich in Fibre and other nutrients, this may also help in weight loss, to the ones who aspire.
The above is a list of food items that we can prepare at home and can get easily from various restaurants and fine dinings These are now not only considered as the food items that are being made at home but people are participating in it with great numbers than ever before. Kudos to our food industry who are making extra efforts and are offering it during Navratri as a Special Navratri Thali – (Navratri Platter) in their Menu. So now, next time you want to enjoy a tour in the Heritage City and simultaneously observing a fast, you don’t have to worry about food at all because it is easily available at your doorsteps.
Wish you all Enjoyable and Healthy Navratri 2019.