Om Namah Shivaaye

Why do we have Navratras?

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Navratri is one of the most important festivals of Hindus, celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement all across the country. Traditionally associated with Goddess Durga and worshipping her nine incarnations, the festival holds significance in north India, West Bengal, as well as the central and western regions of the country.

While some strictly believe in holding fast for all nine days, most people fast only on the first and the last days, and a few just abstain from consuming alcohol, onion, garlic or non-vegetarian items. Interestingly, the festival chalks out a strict list of food items that one can consume while fasting. It is during Navratras that a few ingredients - which otherwise get a convenient skip in a regular Indian kitchen - resume utmost importance.

So, why is it that a set of food items are strictly prohibited during the festival? What difference does rock salt consumption has over the regular table salt? We got our thinking caps on and tried to reason the above and many other similar questions associated with Navratri.

Why do we have Navratras?

Well there are two type of belief behind this custom (tradition). One is traditional belief i.e. what people believe and other is scientific belief . We will talk about both traditional and scientific (or ancient) belief with some of its history one by one:

◾Traditional Belief (what people think):

The concept of observing a fast has many connotations. On religious grounds, fasting is a way to get closer to the almighty. Many cultures believe that abstinence facilitates spiritual purification leading to a stronger willpower. It is also seen as a way to emulate and inculcate in oneself, virtues like self-discipline and stoicism. Those who fast therefore give up on their regular food and switch to lighter food items as a way to practice abstinence and move closer to God. Many people also restrict themselves from consuming water on the days of fasting. This no-food-no-water fast is known as Nirjala Vrat.

◾Scientific (Ancient) Belief:

For those of you who scoff at the idea of religion and science going hand in hand, here we bring you the logic behind shunning a few food items and embracing certain others during fasts. Though, traditionally in Hinduism, the consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food is considered inauspicious and unholy, there is solid science behind it.

Navratri is celebrated twice a year and if you have noticed, every time it falls during the change of season. From an Ayurvedic perspective, eating foods like meat, grains, alcohol, onion, garlic etc. attract and absorb negative energies and should be avoided during a seasonal change when our bodies tend to have low immunity and are more susceptible to fall sick.Navratras give enough time to the body to adjust and prepare itself for to the changing season. These nine days were marked as a period when people would clean their body system by keeping fasts by avoiding excessive salt and sugar, meditate, gain a lot of positive energy, gain a lot of self confidence & increase the self determination power (fasts are a medium to improve our will power and self determination) and finally get ready for the challenges of the changed season.

So, our ancestor were more scientific and clever than us. They just attached it with religion because people follow this only when they had fear of GOD. And that's  true.
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