Significance of Navratri – 9 day fasting – Health and spiritual reasons
Navratri is celebrated twice a year, once during the beginning of the summer season and the other, when winters are about to start. These sessions of nine days is customarily spent fasting and in abstinence. The timing has been ordained very carefully to maximise the effect of bodily, emotional and spiritual detoxification.
During this period, the immune system of the body becomes weak because of the change and season and you become susceptible to various diseases. Hence, it was advised by our ancestors to keep away from meat, alcohol etc. during Navratris.
According to Ayurvedic perspective, eating foods like meat, grains, alcohol, onion, garlic etc. attracts and increases negative energies and should be strictly avoided because our bodies tend to have low immunity and are more susceptible to fall sick. So, we fast and worship for cleansing and purification so that we can increase the feelings of well-being, harmony and perfect balance.
Fasting gives your digestive system time to rest. Basically, fasting combined with divinity gives your mind and body the peace and clarity it needs to deal with the troubles of life and how to solve them. You are able to make mindful choices in life. It is a way to improve your brain activities.
Avoiding your favourite food is a tough task but if you are able to do it just for few days, you will be able to gain control over a lot of habits that aren’t good for you. This is perhaps the best time to build self-control. The ultimate aim is to get rid of:
Read: Everyday Food And Cancer
During the first three days, a person is required to indulge in activities which reduce the negativity in the body. The physical purification involves regular bath (of the external body as well as various orifices); mental bath which involve self-confession exercises, and conscious attempts not to think negative.
During these days, a person tries to restrain himself from thinking, speaking or doing any activity which can harm other person. The five obstacles to internal happiness are attachment, anger, desire, greed and ego. A person tries to restrain from all these negativities. These negative thoughts should also not be suppressed or repressed as otherwise they will manifest into some internal diseases.
The next three days, after the negativity in the mind has been reduced, involves building positivity in the mind by way of various positive mental exercises. These involve mixing up with people, sharing, giving, donating, socialising, reception, etc. Cultivating an opposite thought to a negative thought in the mind is the easiest way of tackling the negative thought. Calling all the people you know during these three days helps in creating social health.
The last three days involve reading and understanding good scriptures and learning from the sins of others.
Once you have bid goodbye to negativity in the first three days (representing Kali) and have built up happiness and positivity in the mind (representing Lakshmi) the only thing left is to acquire spiritual knowledge (representing Saraswati). During these last three days, a person is purified enough to understand and grasp the knowledge of ‘Self’ and to understands and discriminate between good and bad. One also learns to stay cool irrespective of the face of life being joyful or disturbing. One learns to continue his actions while detaching it with the results.