Sawan 2023: 7 Food Items That Should Be Avoided While Fasting
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During the holy month of Sawan, which coincides with monsoon in India, devotees of Lord Shiva engage in a month-long sattvik fast that focuses on the purest of foods. The benefits of following a sattvik diet during this month are many, and include benefits for your mind, body and soul. According to Hinduism, fasting and following dietary restrictions are believed to purify the body and mind. It is seen as a way to discipline oneself and focus on spiritual practices, thereby enhancing devotion to Lord Shiva. 

The idea behind this fast for Sawan is to adopt sattvik foods while eliminating other foods for health benefits. Certain foods, especially non-vegetarian items, are considered to be tamasic (associated with negative qualities) and are believed to disrupt spiritual progress. By avoiding such foods, individuals aim to maintain purity and increase their spiritual receptivity. Sawan also falls during the monsoon season in India, when the chances of waterborne diseases and food contamination are higher.  

Therefore, avoiding certain foods during this period can reduce the risk of health issues. These foods include Tamasic as well as Rajasic ingredients. A thing to note here is that in modern times, the divisions between Sattvik, Tamasic and Rajasic foods can be very difficult to ascertain with restaurant and takeaway foods. This is also the reason why most people prefer cooking and eating at home during Sawan.  

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Here are seven food items that you should be avoiding during the month of Sawan, whether you are cooking at home or eating out. 

1. Onions: Onions are believed to possess tamasic properties in Ayurvedic traditions, which are associated with inertia and negativity. They are considered to generate heat in the body and are therefore avoided during fasting to maintain a sattvic diet. 

2. Garlic: Similarly, garlic is considered tamasic and known for its pungent flavor and aroma. It is believed to produce heat in the body and increase restlessness. Hence, it is avoided during the Sawan fast to maintain a simple and pure diet. 

3. Non-Vegetarian Food: Meat, fish, and eggs are commonly avoided during the Sawan fast as fasting is often associated with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It is believed that refraining from consuming animal products promotes spiritual purity and compassion. 

4. Common Grains: Some individuals choose to avoid grains like wheat, rice, and oats during the Sawan fast. Instead, they opt for fasting-friendly grains like barnyard millet (sama), water chestnut flour (singhara atta), and buckwheat flour (kuttu atta). These grains are considered lighter and more suitable for fasting practices. 

5. Common Salt: Regular table salt, also known as common salt, is replaced with rock salt (sendha namak) during the Sawan fast. Rock salt is considered purer and more suitable for fasting as it is unprocessed and devoid of additives like iodine. 

6. Fermented Foods: Fermented foods like idli, dosa, and pickles are typically avoided during the Sawan fast. Fermentation involves the use of microorganisms and can lead to the production of gases in the stomach, which may cause discomfort during fasting. 

7. Pungent Spices: Spices like mustard seeds and asafoetida (hing) are often avoided during fasting due to their strong flavors and aromas. These spices are believed to stimulate the appetite and may be considered unsuitable for maintaining a simple and controlled diet during the fast.