Many of us believe in the philosophy of quitting their favourite edible or avoiding materialistic luxuries to please the God and receiving blessings in return for fulfillment of the desired wish. This concept is prevalent during the seven or eight days of fasting of Navratras. During the seven or eight day period, the devotees performs complete (Nirjal or Nirahar) fast or partial fast for pleasing Goddess Durga and seeking her divine grace.
The devotee performing fast wake up early and after having bath they worship the deity. Certain people consume the food just once a day while others prefer a specific diet. High energy (tamsic) food like meat, egg, alcohol, grains, pulses and any kind of spices and salt are avoided in the diet. Beverages like milk, juices, coconut water and tea can be taken along with diet consisting of potato, sago or vrat-snacks. Common salt is replaced by rock salt (sendha namak) during these days.
People observe these fast for either regular seven or eight days and many of them keep it for few days only. The eighth day (Ashtami) or ninth day (Navami) is reserved for paying homage to nine small girls and one boy through kanya pujan or Kanchika Pujan. Special food is prepared according to the varied rituals among family, which is offered to the nine girls in the form of nine devis. Certain dakshina or new utensils are also offered to them. Then the prasadam is consumed by the family to break their fast and mark the completion of auspicious navratri.
Fasting is a natural healer as during this process the energy is utilised for maintaining the metabolic rate and restoring the immune system. It heals the dead cells and damaged tissues of the body along with burning away the extra toxins. Fasting is also recommended as it helps in maintaining the salt balance in the body as extra salt and deficiency of salt, both are harmful for us.
Thus the seven or eight day of fasting is a way of expressing the faith and devotion in Goddess Durga. As time is changing, so does the patterns of fasting but in any way you perform it, your faith should be intact. Whether you hold a wish within you or not, Ma Durga will surely bestow her blessings and love upon your family.
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Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
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