Navratri 2023: Why Do We Eat Sattvic Foods While Fasting?
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Every year, during Navratri fasting, many people choose to follow a sattvic diet, based on the principles of Sattva – one of the three gunas in Hindu philosophy. The other two gunas – rajas and tamas, are known to be different in characteristic, unlive sattva – which is associated with purity, balance and harmony. Navratri is a time of spiritual purification and devotion to the goddess Durga or nine forms of the divine mother. Since sattvic foods are considered pure, it helps maintain a calm and serene mind, essential for spiritual practice and meditation.

Sattvic foods are typically made with pseudo-grains or grain alternatives, along with being light and easy to digest. This quality is especially important during fasting since long hours of not eating can weaken the digestive system. Sattvic foods include fruits, tapioca pearls, root vegetables, nuts and dairy products like yogurt, which are gentle on the stomach as well as keep one satiated for longer. A sattvic diet is believed to enhance meditation and prayer during the nine-day auspicious period, by promoting mental clarity and reducing restlessness.

Foods that are highly spicy, oily or heavy to digest, can lead to agitation and distraction, which is said to be undesirable during spiritual practices. Foods of sattvic nature are considered to be in harmony with nature, as well as promote physical and mental balance. They are neither excessively stimulating nor overly dulling – a balance that is thought to be conducive to spiritual growth. The Navratri festival is dedicated to the worship of the divine feminine energy, which is associated with purity and compassion. Hence, sattvic foods are believed to align with these qualities – making them a fitting choice during this period.

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Common Sattvic foods consumed during Navratri fasting include typically include seasonal fruits or bananas and apples, root vegetables like colocasia and potatoes, dairy products such as yoghurt, paneer, ghee, nuts, buckwheat, amaranth, and a handful of spices such as cumin, green chillies and cardamom. This predominantly vegetarian diet promotes the consumption of whole, nutritious foods and cuts down on the non-plant-based foods, thereby reducing the risk of falling sick during this transitional season. Following a sattvic diet during this fasting period also allows the body to maintain optimum energy levels, to get through a day’s tasks without feeling fatigue or a slump in energy.