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Rite precautions

The festival of Navratri has some darker sides too. Insiya Amir on how to stay safe and healthy while one celebrates.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 16, 2007 12:40 IST
Insiya Amir
Insiya Amir
Hindustan Times

It's festival time, and you have made all efforts to celebrate like never before. You have finally fit into your backless ghagra choli, and yes, that kurta makes visible, for anyone who wants to see, the extra iron you have pumping in the past month. But before you pull up (or down) your socks, here are a few things that you should keep in mind. So that you celebrate in style and survive to see good conquer evil on Dassera.

Child's play
Navratri always has a set of stories about unwanted pregnancies and a high number of abortions related with it. Newspapers, magazines, TV, everybody talks about it.

<b1>This year, there have already been stories about condom sales rising, Cipla promoting its emergency contraceptive pill, city gynaecologists urging organisers to set up condom stalls at Dandiya venues etc.

But the problem still remains. And that's because no matter how much the media and the doctors talks about ‘young adults' playing without supervision of the parents, the ‘young adults' in question rarely discuss it. Not with their parents or friends.

Says Anju Yadav, 16, a student: "Only last year a friend of mine fell into trouble, if you can call it that. But every time I try discussing the issue of using protection, my friends just shrug me off. It's as if the problem does not exist for them".

A wake-up call: the problem exists, and not just the girls, but the boys should also do something to address it.

Firstly, not just during Navratri, but unprotected sex at any time is dangerous. We all know about the threat of HIV and STDs. So the first thing you should have in handy are condoms. And girls, please don't depend on the boys to act responsibly and expect them have them: help yourself stay out of trouble.

If you have already had unprotected sex, then go in for an emergency contraceptive. These are available over-the-counter at chemists, and are the next best bet. Norlevo or i-pill will work, if you take them in time.

Though these are supposed to work till after 72 hours, it is best to take them within 12 hours of intercourse. Emergency contraceptives are not abortion pills: if pregnancy has already set in, the pills have no effect.

Also, as these pills have side effects - irregular bleeding, nausea and vomiting - condoms are more advisable. Also, condoms are more easily available than emergency contraceptives.

All's well that eats well
There are other health problems associated with Navratri also. Dr Richa Anand, executive dietician, L H Hiranandani hospital, says: "Dancing till late in the night means burning a lot of calories. So going on an empty stomach is not advisable. Some girls go on crash diets to lose weight only for this festival, and they just refuse to eat".

"The best thing is to eat fruits or drink some juice so that there is satiety value; watermelon is the best fruit for such cases. For those who eat eggs, a boiled egg is also an excellent option."

There are also those who, on the flip side, indulge in overeating. Maintaining a balance while eating from the buffet tables is important. If you eat too much, especially after all that dieting, not only will you gain more weight than you lost, you also will end up with diarrhoea or food poisoning.

Another thing to watch out for is the consumption of alcohol. An overdose, according to Anand, will give you migraines and nausea.

Body and soul

Yes, we all want to dance; after all, some of us get the chance to do so only once a year. Great, but be very careful about some physical problems you might end up with.

General practitioner Anand Bhave says, "People who are not used to dancing or any physical exercise, end up with severe muscle cramps. So much so that they are incapacitated for days". Bhave's advice is not to overdo the dance moves and to take adequate breaks.

Another problem that can occur is that of fatigue. There is a loss of salts and liquids while dancing but people are so caught up that they don't realise the fatigue until it hits them hard.

Drinking lime water or any fruit juice (fresh or canned) is a good idea. These are easily available at stalls at Dandiya venues and are good enough.

A little precaution will go a long way. There is a reason they say it is better to be safe than sorry. But don't get too worked up. After all, it's the time to celebrate.

First Published: Oct 16, 2007 12:05 IST