Navratri is the nine-day Hindu festival full of joie de vivre. It is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India. North Indian people celebrate it as the coronation of Lord Rama as the King of Ayodhya and the defeat of evil by marking the death of Ravana. In Bengal, big pandals are set up for Durga Puja.
During Navratras, one thing which is very prominent is the observance of fasts. There is no hard and fast rule to keep fasts till the end of nine days. You may observe first two, last two or even first and last day of Navratras.
These days, fasting is the ‘in’ thing. Yes, the people who are ‘endorsing’ fasting are not only yoga guru Baba Ramdev or the 74-year-old anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. They have the will and determination to starve themselves for national interests. It’s really commendable that at the age of 74, Anna Hazare broke his fast unto death on the 13th day despite various tactics by the government. His fast ultimately ended
on a positive note with government accepting all his demands in principle.
Such is the power of fast!
Even, complacent politicians are fasting like recently, Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi observed three days ‘sadbhavna’ fast in a luxurious hall, following words of praise from US in terms of good-governance and development of infrastructure. Following the footstep was Shankarsinh Vaghela from rival party (Congress), to 'out-fast' Modi as his fast started an hour before Modi’s fast and ended after a couple of hours after Modi ended his fast! (Just note the limit to which politicians can go in competing with each other)
So, humble fasting has come a long way. It’s no more linked to devotees seeking God’s blessings. Fasting has become the most powerful weapon of protesting in a peaceful manner in the present scenario.
Well, coming back to Navratras, here, fasting is quite simple as you don’t crave for the regular food which you eat. Instead, here you can indulge in exploring and exchanging some mouth-watering recipes like Shamak ke chawal, Sabudane ki kheer, kuttu floor’s pooris and pakoras, boiled potato with curd with a pinch of rock salt, along with fruits, salads, juice, tea or milk. I am sure after reading about so many delicious dishes people who oppose the concept of fasting may give it a try. Although, you can try all these delicacies even if you are not fasting, but binging on them during navratras has its own charm.
It is also a boon for those who need to shed extra flab on their bodies. For all figure-conscious women, fasting on water and some fruits will act as a magic wand to attain that hour-glass figure.
Fasting cleanses the body from toxins and purifies the mind from worldly and materialistic pleasures. Also, it is a time to reflect on self and your attitude towards life.
Most of us gorge on a lot of junk food and oily stuff daily which has long-term repercussions on our health. These nine days help in detoxifying and purifying our system.
The celebration of Navaratri is the celebration of birth and death, the birth of victory and death of malevolence.
I hope above mentioned ‘inspirational’ facts are enough to motivate people to observe fasts!
So, this navratri do some soul searching. Explore your inner self and emerge as a new you. If people keep fasts to save the nation, improve their public image; as a common person, you can at least observe fasts to cleanse your body, to shed those ‘extra’ kilos and most importantly, to illuminate the lost divinity. Give your taste buds a miss and enter into a journey of spirituality, purity and sacredness!
(The views expressed by the author are personal)