It’s been centuries since our grandmothers and their grandmothers have been telling us a famous proverb “Aayi Teej, Bakher Gayi Beej”, which translates to “The festival of Teej sows the seeds of wheat as well as the festivals.”
Hariyali Teej or Teej is a famous festival in the North India especially for the Haryana and Punjab which are considered as the wheat basket of India. There, the farmers work very hard and then get the result of their blood and sweat when they see the pearls of the grain in the field.
The festival of Teej comes in the monsoon season, in the month of July-August when the sky is overcast with clouds and there is torrents of rains. It falls on the third day of bright fortnight of the month of Shravan i.e. Advancing Monsoon.
The people exchange the highly sweet dishes made of flour like Ghevar and Faini (Firni) as gifts and eat them a lot in the season. This sharing is considered to be auspicious and blesses the family with the blessings of health and happiness.
As per ayurveda, the months of Shravan and Bhadrapada i.e. July-August-September are predominated with Vata and Pitta respectively. This causes dryness and acidity in the whole body, resulting in restlessness and mood swings.
The highly sweet and ghee laden Ghevar and Firni provide relief from the acidic and moist environment. They have Vata and Pitta calming properties due to ghee and sweet juice. Thus, they have a calming effect on mind as well as the body..
Whenever we are to leave for an auspicious work or a shubh karya or whenever we have to leave for an exam, job interview or any test, we will always find our mothers standing at the threshold of the house with a bowl full of sweet curd and a spoon in her hand, the spoon being scooped with curd and in the position to be put into our mouth as soon as we reach to go out.
This tradition has been a consistent practice amongst Indian mothers and grandmothers who eagerly wait for their child to come at the doorstep and leave for the shubh karya or the exam.
As per shastras, curd and sweet things are considered to be mangalkaari or auspicious. The presence of sweet things is considered customary on the day of festivals so as to invoke an all day auspiciousness in the house.
Curd is formed from the milk which is said to be an elixir for life. The curd is enriched with the properties of the milk.
As per the ayurvedic literature, Curd is considered to be cool and nutritive in nature. It has a calming effect on the digestive system. It cleanses the stomach and aids the memory to be in the mode of attention and serenity.
The sugar, as well being sweet and nutritive has a high energy output. On the day of an auspicious work, the mind is very much preoccupied and tensed as well. This creates pitta in the body which is not conducive and creates body heat and troubles in the digestive system. The tension and anxiety for the exam creates a sort of discomfort in the stomach as well as the mood.
Therefore, in order to relax the whole body, the custom of curd and sugar heaps the best benefit.
Kadhi or curry is one of the most popular savoury preparations of North Indian Cuisine whereby people enjoy it a lot. Pouring dollops of Kadhi over hot streaming rice and enjoying the same again and again till the belly is full is worth remembering.
Kadhi is a preparation in which sour buttermilk is boiled with sifted gram flour (Besan) and some spices like methidana, zeera, dhania, turmeric, salt and pepper. After that, as per individuals’ choice and flavour, some pakodas or boondi are added to the same and then, tempering is done using ghee and red chilly.
Kadhi-Chawal is an all time favourite preparation for the North Indians and there are many versions of Kadhi available in various cuisines of India, but we are forbidden to enjoy this delicacy in the month of Saawan or Shravan (July-August)
In the month of Saawan, the sky is overcasted with clouds and there is lot of rain. This makes the atmosphere sluggish and hampers our digestion. The quality of drinking water degrades down and further slows down digestion. In the same line, lack of immunity becomes prominent due to the same water problem.
Kadhi, despite being delicious, is cool in nature and hence, hard to digest as it contains Besan. And the buttermilk is coming from the milk which is given by cows which are grazing on fresh new grasses of the rainy season which are already contaminated and are forbidden for humans to eat. In the month of Shravan, humans are not supposed to eat green leafy vegetables.
Hence, our grandparents forbid us to eat kadhi, just for our own benefit of health. Poor digestive system cannot digest kadhi and hence, they forbade us.
As soon as the rainy season arrives by the commencement of the month of Shravan (July-August), we all find the genuine sages and hermits who are on the way to achieve perfection in their relationship with the supreme personality of godhead or have already achieved perfection in same, to pause their wanderings and see them staying in huge numbers in temples and ashrams, giving opportunity to the general masses to serve the lord and get them blessed by their blessings.
Chatumaas, the word comes from two separate words, Chatur and Maas. It means a collection of four months, Sharavan (July-August), Bhadrapada (August-September), Ashwin (September-October) and Kartik (October-November). These four months are specifically chosen since it involves the complete rainy season and the autumn season. These seasons, the sages stay at a particular place and perform austerities of body, speech and mind.
As per Ayurveda, these four months are described as the months of highest weakness in the body since the sun changes it’s course. It becomes more prominent in the southern hemisphere and the withdrawal causes generalised weakness. And since the weather is moist and humid, the body is depleted of many nutrients via bodily secretions.
In these months, the shastras enjoin that people must restrain from somethings from their diet and well as daily routine.
The rainy season, carries along with itself a plethora of pathogens and insects who move out from their residence inside the ground in order to find shelter somewhere else as their homes are flooded with water.
Also, due to cool weather, humid climate and availability of water makes the pathogens grow in an accelerated manner. These pathogens become the cause of diseases and hence, to avoid the contact with pathogens, one must observe cleanliness and must restrict movement.
Certain food items must not be consumed. One must not consume
- Green leafy vegetables in Shravan
- Yogurt in Bhadrapada
- Milk in Ashwin
- Non-veg, Urad and Masoor Dal in Kartik
The reason for the same is:
In Shravan, due to fresh arrival of monsoon, all the small organisms living inside the ground come out and try to find shelter. Green leafy vegetables being the best in nutrition as well as space give them the best opportunity. Hence, they enter the leafy vegetables
In Bhadrapada, the season becomes too much cold and wet. Hence, taking yogurt will cause respiratory diseases.
In Ashwin, the mammals whose milk we drink have been enough poisoned by eating the leafy vegetables. For two months, they have been doing so and hence, their milk becomes indigestible and we have the weakest strength at that time due to high humidity and clear sky.
In Kartik, the body starts to recover and welcome the winter season. Since the season is about to change and dryness is to come, consuming foods which are dry and take long time to digest is not considered wise.
Most of us find it irresistible to cuddle a small baby with his eyes smeared with kajal. Somehow or the other, our hands extend automatically to the face of the child and we end up cuddling the baby. But, it has been a practice of years by out grandparents to apply kajal on the night of diwali to everyone’s eyes, be it a baby or the grandparents themselves.
As per the shastras, Diwali night is considered to be the night of black magic as well as Devi Lakshmi. All the shaktis wander in the night time of Diwali which can be caught by the person who wants them and to hurt a person from whom they are sent forward.
The kajal, being emenating from the wick of a sanctified lamp is said to protect the person, especially the eyes which cause “Buri Nazar” to affect the individual.
There is a cutom of lighting a great earthen lamp on the night of diwali which burns the whole night and people pile up some earthern lamp on the top of the wick to collect the kajal. This kajal is used by the grandparents to apply in everyone’s eyes.
On the night of Diwali, there is high level of pollution as well as the small insects which fly to the light, the glow worms and the small insects which have a short span of lifetime, practically the night only. They die in the morning. This creates problems in the eyes of the people. And due to the cold and dry winds, the eyes start to pain a lot and lacrimate a lot. This excessive tears cause burning sensation in the eyes, itching and scratching.
The kajal or collyrium is cool in nature. As per Ayurvedic sciences, applying kajal keeps the eyes fit and protect it from cold and other seasonal factors which effect the longevity of the eyes.
Whenever we hear about hawan or homa, the picture of a fire emitting smoke all around comes in our mind, but in a reverential manner since it is meant for deity. We have seen or heard numerous times that by doing hawan, one invites peace to his house.
As stated by the lord in Bhagwad Gita (Chapter 5 Verse 29)-
gyatva mam shantim rchchhati||
The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.
Since the supreme personality of godhead Sri Krishna is the ultimate benefactor of all hawans, he provides the person who is doing yagya and the person for whom yagya is done both with peace and tranquility.
Homa or Hawan or Yagya, as people call it in India is a vedic tradition which is coming down or the last billions and trillions of yugas. The famous yagyas which are mentioned in the Vedic literature are Ashwamedha Yagya of Maharaj Dashratha, Rajsuya Yagya of Maharaj Yudhishthir etc.
Doing Yagya was yuga dharma (Supreme prerogative and duty) of Treta yuga and people used to see the lord being satisfied by that when he used to appear in the yagya kund.
What is hawan or homa?
Yagya comprises of igniting a holy fire using pure wood and pure cow ghee and cow dung cakes and with the chanting of mantras, the hawish is poured into the fire with the word “Swaha!”. The hawish comprises of Indian Cow Ghee and mixture of Herbs called Hawan Samagri along with some other pure materials.
- Seeing the Hawan with scientific paradigm, the ancient sages used to say that by doing yagya, Sattva gun increases which is symbolized by cleanliness, peace and purity.
- The cow ghee and cow dung cake react to release tonnes of oxygen ad other gases which make the atmosphere pure.
- The small quantities of sulpher and nitrogen oxides get rid of harmful bacteria and their inhalation causes lacrimation, which relieves the eyes of all impurities and cough which arises clears the nasal and respiratory passage.
- All the harmful microbes and pathogens are cleared due to the smoke emitted by burning of herbs which acts as a natural detoxifier.
- The natural herbal smoke purifies the mind as well as the body.
- The ash which is remaining from the Hawan kund is asked to put into plants which acts as a very good fertilizer.
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Why it is not prescribed to eat sweet and go outside?
Most of us have been perturbed and irked by the sudden jostle from our parents or specifically grandparents when we go outside home after eating something sweet. This sudden irk becomes more prominent during the night time, when they will give some salt in the hands and ask the person to lick it and them go.
The Garuda Purana states about the things to which the ghostly species are attracted to. They are attracted to pleasant as well as putrid smell of any form which works as a food for them. So, whenever someone eats a sweet item of any kind, the pleasant smell of the sweet attracts these species and hence, they become prone to attack by them. The attack may be subtle or gross, depending upon the level of piety of the individual. Pious persons are safeguarded by the destiny as well as supreme lord whereas impious may have to face certain strange happenings.
Salt, on the other hand is a pure substance. In Garuda Purana, the supreme lord Sri Krishna states to Garuda, “Know that sesame seed comes from my sweat and the salt originates from my body”. Salt, being pure and stronger than all other tastes, subdues the effect of sweet and hence, stops the pleasant as well as putrid smell coming from our mouth.
The eating of sweets after brushing one’s teeth increases the chances of tooth decay. And the more time elapses after brushing one’s teeth, the more are the chances. Also, sweet items are the most nutritive in nature. Due to high content of sugar, they act as the best medium for growth of bacteria. Whenever we move out, we are in contact with billions and trillions of them. These bacterial infections can cause variety of oral as well as digestive system diseases.
Salt, being strong and piercing in nature, makes the mouth saline and stops the bacterial growth to a very high extent. It acts an oral cleanser and mouth refresher, completely eliminating the chances of any of such diseases.