Malad resident Swati Singh, 24, had nothing but fruits and milk on Tuesday, and will continue with this diet for another eight days. Navratri fast is a tradition that she has been observing for the last several years.
“While I first started fasting, I had only one meal a day; then I started eating only fruits during the fast,” said Singh, a business analyst. “I feel this is a way of showing my devotion to God since I don’t get the time to pray every day. In fact, this helps rejuvenate my body and I feel much better after the fruit-based diet,” she said.
The nine-day festival, which began on Tuesday, sees several people go on a fast, usually avoiding salt, onions and garlic in their meals. Medical experts claim there are both advantages and hazards with such fasting.
“While fasting is good for the body as it improves digestion, it can lead to short-term health problems such as hyperacidity, diarrhoea and gastroenteritis if not done properly. In the long term, it could also cause kidney stones,” said Dr Bhim Sen Bansal, chairman, RG Stone Urology and Laparoscopy Hospital. “People who are prone to health risks must take extra precaution while fasting,” he added.
A blood-pressure problem compelled Rakhi Yadav, 33, to stop fasting during Navratri about five years ago. “I used to feel weak when I would fast since my blood pressure would drop. It would affect my work, which is why I had to stop fasting,” said Yadav, a teacher.
For those who will be fasting over the nine days, several restaurants in the city offer special upvas (fast) dishes to customers. “We offer special items such as sabudana khichdi, sabudana vada and aloo sabzi during this fasting period and also on other such occasions in the year,” said Sushant Kundu, operational manager, Thackers, a Girgaum-based restaurant.
Another restaurant that offers the traditional farsan and upvas items is Saum restaurant in Girgaum. The Govinda restaurant in Juhu also offers an upvas menu with sabudana items on the occasion of ekadashi, which will fall on October 25 this year.