Navratri, one of the most popular festivals of Hindus, is observed twice in a year. It is a nine-night festival, which is celebrated in the months of Chaitra and Ashwin with the names Chaitra Navratri and Sharad Navratri respectively.
In various parts of India, People observe fasts during Navratri. It is believed that by fasting, once can purify his/her mind, body and soul. During Navratri, markets are flooded with Navratri fast materials, puja products and other décor items, which are used by devotees during these nine nights.
There are many benefits of fasting during Navratri. Some of the most important ones are:
• When you observe fast during Navratri, it appeases Maa Durga and she bestows her blessings on you, which brings success and prosperity in your life.
• Sacrificing personal interests is also considered as a part of devotion to the god. Thus, people observe fast to appease Maa Durga. It is believed that the process and rules of fasting during Navratri were explained by Maa Durga herself to one of her ardent devotees.
• Navratri starts when the seasons tend to change. Change in the seasons has different effects on your physical, mental and spiritual level. By observing fast during this time balances your energy and connects you to the mother goddess.
Navratri fasting can have a direct impact on your body and mind. Therefore, it requires an enormous sense of responsibility while planning to fast during Navratri. There are few important rules for fasting, these are:
• Very young, the old and infirm, nursing mother or pregnant women should not keep 9-days of Navratri fast, as this fast is doing to impact their health.
• During the days of fasting, devotees need to abstain from eating meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, common salt and other species.
• They should also stay away from alcohol and smoking
• It is advised that one should increase intake of fluids during the days of fasting.
• Devotees observing fast should get up early in the morning, take bath and get dressed in fresh and clean clothes.
• Devotees need to perform puja in the morning and evening after sunset.
• Wearing black during the fasting period is not allowed.
• One should not cut hair or nails or shave during Navratri.
• Both men and women are allowed to fast during the Navratri. Even if someone cannot fast for complete 9 days, there is liberty to choose a number of days they can
• Devotees are required to eat Satvik meal, once in a day at one sitting.
• Fruits, milk, home-made juice, kheer etc can be eaten during the day time. However, it would be beneficial to have a single meal in a day, that too after sunset.
Although, it depends on the customs one follow.
• Charity is one of the main aspects of Navratri. Therefore, do charity and donation as much as you can. It will not only appease Maa Durga but will also fill-up your spiritual needs. (During Ashtami/Navami, there is a tradition of Kanya pujan)