Navratras: A time to reflect on tradition | Column
While it’s a fashion statement to be eating certain foods while on a diet plan of some hi-fi dietician; it’s a matter to be looked down upon if you keep a religious fast. Why?punjab Updated: Sep 10, 2017 18:06 IST
The Navratras mean different things to different people. To some they are about prayers, meditation, fasting and rituals. To others they could mean feasting or even detoxification and weight-loss. Whichever way you may perceive them, our ancestors planned these very strategically and scientifically.
The Sharadiya Navratras and the Chaitra Navratras are both placed at the time of the change of season. At these times the immunity is on the lower side, so it does good to undergo detox. Detox means a change of diet to exclude certain foods and include others. Fasting means control or restraint, both physical and mental.
In contemporary times, dieticians often recommend clients to go off cereals and pulses for a few days. The Navratras do just that. While we are supposed to go off wheat, rice, grains and pulses, we can switch to buck wheat flour (kuttu ka atta) which is very high in protein and fibre and Barnyard millet (samak chawal) that is rich in vitamins and minerals and tastes like rice. Fresh fruits and juices are allowed. Isn’t that what detox is all about?
Someone refrained from having fruit-chaat at a party as it contained regular salt. People ridiculed her, asking if the goddess would get annoyed if she ate salt. I find such questions, extremely distasteful.
Rock salt or shenda namak is very high in potassium and is great for detoxification. Our forefathers probably made these rules and regulations to bettering our health and helping us tide over the change of season. People now-a-days do not have the time to understand these traditions. But they are very scientific and extremely sensible.
Fashion statement versus religious fasting
While it’s a fashion statement to be eating certain foods while on a diet plan designed by some hi-fi dietician; it’s a matter to be looked down upon if you keep a religious fast. Why?
When we are ill, do we not follow the dictates of the doctor and have the medicines prescribed, without in-depth knowledge? So, why can we not follow the dictates of our forefathers? They were healthier than us because they lived simply and ate simply. They ate as per the season and as per requirement of the body.
Religious fasting usually advocates having fruits and milk or curd, for the purpose of simplifying the job of cooking. In a religious fast, one is supposed to spend the better part of the day in prayer. There is no time to cook.
So, it’s just an easier option to have fruit and milk. But we find ways to convert fasts into feasts! We find ways to make rich milk shakes and desserts out of fruits and vegetables, adding huge amounts of ghee, oil and sugar to them and then we complain of gaining weight while fasting! We go to a restaurant and order a Navratra-Thali comprising of pooris made of kuttu ka atta and tikkis made of potatoes and sagodana, vegetables loaded with oil, though devoid of onion and garlic. What is the point?
The traditions are, thus, becoming a subject of ridicule. If we are observing them, let’s do so with the understanding of why we do them. Let’s pride ourselves for being Indian and preserve our culture by looking deeper. If we don’t, another one or two decades hence, all these shall be history!
When we see and hear of the culture and traditions of other nations, we feel a sense of wow! Why then do we ridicule our own rich traditions and culture?
The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor