This is that time of the year when we start planning for the festive season! There is a nip in the air and you can feel the festivities beginning to start. But these festivities start on a somber note. The 9 holy days of Navratri usher in the festive season, 9 days we worship deities and keep a ‘fast’ as a means of ‘tyag’ or sacrifice. It is also a time we cleanse ourselves before the excesses of the festive season begin. Navratri begins on the first day of the bright half of Ashvin or Ashtabula (September-October). It ends on the ninth day of Ashvin. The tenth day is celebrated as Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami. In Hindu mythology, Navratri celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon. She fought for nine days and nine nights before emerging victorious on the tenth day.
During the fasting period, most people eat only one meal a day at sunset. The Navratri meal has special courses and is strictly vegetarian. Even onion and garlic are usually not allowed. Flours like Kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour), Singhade ka atta (water chestnut flour) and Sabudana (sago) are used as they are not considered to be ‘Cereals’. Special ingredients and vegetables are used for preparing delicious recipes during Navratras. The choice of vegetables may vary from region to region. Spices are restricted to red chilies, turmeric and cumin seeds and only rock salt is used. However, one can drink milk and eat curds, fruits and nuts. Navratras is the time to eat a variety of healthy foods. Ideal fasting diet should contain a balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Eating healthy and choosing right kind of foods becomes really important even during festival season.
Here are some tips to remain healthy during navratra and make it a time to maintain a healthy body weight and stay healthy too!
- Make fortified ‘raitas’ instead of having plain curd. Add grated cucumber, boiled and grated bottle gourd, tomatoes, potatoes or blanched spinach.
- Stay hydrated by adding few glasses of buttermilk, lassi, chhaach, coconut water, nimbu paani (lemonade) or milkshakes to your daily schedule.
- Avoid fried Navratri snacks, try using boiled potatoes or roasted vegetables, nuts and fruits.
- Instead of puris or pakodas made from kuttu ka atta/singhade ka atta try out simple roti, or stuffed roti made of kuttu or singhade ka atta which will help to cut down on calories.
- Use skimmed or low fat milk and curd for milkshakes, lassi’s, raitas, porridge & kheers.
- Enjoy fruits and vegetables to detoxify your body & flush out toxins.
- To save calories or avoid heaviness associated with fried Navratri foods, try and adopt methods like roasting, boiling, steaming & grilling.