Navratri 2020: Fasting for the first time? Here are some tips to help you sail through – art and culture


Magnificent idols of Goddess Durga, temples decked up, devotees tapping their feet at dandiya-garba nights, and an opportunity to get together and seek blessings of the Almighty — it’s the time of the year when festive fervour takes over. But, like most other festivals this year, Navratri celebrations, too, have been curtailed, given the looming coronavirus scare, which means no pandals or large gatherings. However, an integral part of Navratri remains — devotees observe fasts on all nine days to pay obeisance to the deity.

For those habitual of observing Navratri vrats, things may not seem much different. But first-timers or those fairly new to fasting may have a reason to fret, and wonder how this sudden change may impact their bodily functions. If you’re among those fasting for the first time, here’s what nutritionists recommend:

Keep yourself hydrated: When you fast, there are plenty of restrictions on what you could eat and drink. Thus, stocking up on refreshing and hydrating drinks such as water, coconut water, milk and fruit juices could help you stay replenished throughout the day. Besides, with the risk of developing infections, it becomes essential to remain hydrated. Refrain, however, from drinking too much tea or coffee.

Make more wholesome choices: It is important to avoid fried food and dishes which soak up a lot of oil, especially when fasting. Also, include green leafy vegetables, raw banana, pumpkin, bottle gourd and sweet potato in your diet, as these are healthy and full of essential nutrients.

Snack, but healthily: During Navratri, while we eat falahar or satvik foods, we also end up frying most of them, and this is something that should be avoided. Also, while fasting, we tend to feel hungry at odd times, and may end up snacking more than usual. One could opt for peanut chaat and makhanas, instead of fried namkeen. You could also go in for some nuts and baked sweet potato fries.

Don’t give up on carbs: The best way to fast is to have a well-balanced diet comprising complex carbs such as buckwheat (kuttu), fox nuts (makhana), tapioca, and sweet potatoes. Include enough fibre, healthy fats, protein and probiotics in the diet, too.

Go easy on sugar: One tends to crave for something sweet, more so while fasting. Hence, it is important for us to make sure we don’t overdo sugar-rich foods. It is imperative to avoid refined sugar, go for healthier options instead.

Get adequate sleep: During fasting, one’s body undergoes a detox, and hence, it requires proper rest. Ensure you sleep for seven to eight hours every day. Also, try to do some meditation and other such exercises to fully detoxify your body, mind and soul.

With inputs from nutritionists Avni Kaul, Preety Tyagi and Shikha Mahajan

  • Take one cup of sabudana, rinse well and soak in one cup of water overnight. Before preparing, drain well to get rid of any excess water
  • Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Then, add diced potatoes, cook for 3-4 minutes. Next, add raw peanuts and cook for 2-3 minutes, and then add fresh curry leaves.
  • After a minute, add in the sabudana, some rock salt (sendha namak) and sugar (optional) and mix well for a few minutes. Garnish with some lemon juice and coriander leaves, and serve hot.
Sabudana khichdi is a very important part of Navratri vrat.

Sabudana khichdi is a very important part of Navratri vrat.
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Photo: Istock
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Author tweets @srinidhi_gk

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