Many of our religious rituals and festivals are based on fasting, like Navratri. The worship is accompanied by fasting. Actually, fasting during festivals are said to renew our spiritual energy. The fast and special diet renews the body too, by cleansing the system. Fresh fruits, fresh fruit juices, sprouts, nuts, taken during fasts provide high nutrition and also help to detoxify the system.
Fasting during Navratri originated as a means of restoring and rejuvenating the system. In ancient India, regular fasting was followed by the sages, as a method of purification. This was based on the belief that when we fast, the body processes are given a rest. Specific principles were laid down to make the method more scientific. The sages, with their own powers of higher consciousness, knew that controlled fasting should be followed. Fasting and eating specific foods, helps to remove the accumulation of wastes and improves the functioning of the nerves, soothing them and bringing about relaxation and mental wellbeing.
Tips for fasting judiciously:
*A total fast by drinking only water is not advocated. Avoid tea, coffee, canned juices and aerated drinks. Instead, have juices of fresh fruits and vegetables, to which water must be added.
*There are enough fruits and vegetables to choose from – oranges, apples, pineapples, papaya, carrots, tomato, cucumber, etc. Dilute the juices suitably with water and add lemon juice for taste. Apart from juices, have buttermilk, coconut water and nimbu-paani to keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water too
*Certain fried foods are eaten during fasts. But, too many fried snacks and foods, as well as rich kheers can load the system, instead of cleansing it. Vegetables and salads can be made more appetizing and tasty by adding chaat masala. Vegetables and fruits contain valuable vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and other elements that actually aid the process of cleansing the system. If these are taken in juice form, they are easily assimilated and the digestive system gets a much needed rest
*Have nimbu-pani, adding the juice of a lemon to a glass of water, one teaspoon honey and a pinch of salt.
*The special salt taken during Navratri is actually beneficial to health. It helps the absorption of nutrients. Having Kuttu flour, instead of normal cereals, also help cleansing and nutrition, as it contains protein. While you may eat heavier fasting foods during the day, have a light dinner.
*You can also do deep breathing exercises (like yogic pranayam) and meditation. It really calms the mind and brings about a sense of peace, which is ideal for auspicious occasions and fasts.