Navratri: The nine nights festival


The festival season is here, which brings positivity, happiness, and time for family members to be together, beginning with Navratri. Navratri or Nava Durga Parva is a unique period of 9 nights and 10 days devoted to the worship of nine forms of the Mother Goddess - Durga. The story associated with it gives the moral of victory of “Good Over Evil” when Goddess Durga defeated the evil Mahishasura with her Trishul piercing through his chest. This festival happens to be the most celebrated in the western states of India but also celebrated in the rest of India with different significance like:

  1. West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Bihar – In these states Navratri is well known as Durga Puja, and the face of the maa Durga is revealed in all the pandal for the last four days called Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami. The celebration in West Bengal is claimed to be a must-watch in one lifetime.

  2. Gujarat – The devotees keep fast for 9 days and in the evening they put lighted diyas in an earthen pot with holes called Garbi and perform arti. They also perform Garba dance and dandiya rass wearing traditional clothes.

  3. Punjab – The people keep fast for the first seven days and break it on Ashtami or Navami by worshipping 9 little girls and boys which is termed Kanjika. They also organize jagratas where they stay up the whole night and worship Goddess Durga.

  4. Tamil Nadu – The interesting feature of their celebration is the decoration of Kolu which is a staircase having 9 stairs representing 9 nights and every stair is decorated with beautiful dolls and idols of gods and goddesses.

In the various celebrations of Navratri in different parts of India, there’s just one common thing found, and that’s fasting. Hindus pay special attention to what they eat during these 9 days. Fasting may not be strict in some parts of India but the food is cooked without onion and garlic. However, in some parts of India like West Bengal, people believe that Ma Durga, being the daughter of Earth, visits her motherland during these nine days, and hence the people celebrate these nine days with all sorts of delicacies including non-vegetarian food items and no compulsion of fasting, as they believe that the arrival of the daughter at her motherland deserves to be celebrated with no restrictions whatsoever.


Although fasting has spiritual importance as per our ancestors, yet many people are unaware of the fact that fasting also has many health benefits backed by science:

  1. Heals our body and uses our metabolic rate to restore our immune system. Fasting, therefore, is an effective therapy to cleanse our bodies.

  2. A chance to detox the body which makes our mind calmer.

  3. Rekindles our digestive system.

  4. Coupling fasting with yoga makes our body feel lighter and energetic by bringing a sense of positivity.

"We fast not to please the divine, but to cleanse our body"

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Food during fasting mainly includes fruits, nuts, coconut water but apart from these there are many other dishes available in the market that are specially made for Navratri so instead of buying readymade items why not try some healthy, tasty food items at home?

Here are some fulfilling recipes


RECIPES




Sabudana thali peeth

(Prep time – 8 min Cook time- 30 min)





Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup sabudana (tapioca pearls)

  • 2 medium or large potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed

  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder

  • 4 tablespoon peanuts, roasted and coarsely ground

  • ½ inch ginger, finely chopped or grated

  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice1 teaspoon sugar or add as required

  • Rock salt (sendhanamak) as required

  • Peanut oil or ghee as required for frying


Preparation

  • Pick and rinse the sabudana well till you get transparent water while rinsing.

  • Soak them overnight in enough water.

  • The next day, drain them well and make sure there is no moisture in them.

Cooking

  • Add the mashed potatoes and all the ingredients to the soaked sabudana & mix well.

  • Heat a non-stick frying pan.

  • Spread 1 or 2 teaspoons of peanut oil or ghee on the pan.

  • Apply some oil on your palms.

  • Take some small portion from the mixture and flatten it with your palms.

  • You can also flatten on a ziplock bag. I find it easier to flatten with my palms.

  • Place the flattened round (thali peeth) on the frying pan.

  • Fry till both sides are golden brown and crisp. Repeat.

  • Serve sabudana thali peeth with fruits raita, pieces of cucumber, puri, coriander leaves chutney, roasted peanuts, and roasted fox nuts (makhanas) in ghee.

 



Water Chestnut Flour (Singhara Atta) Sandwich



Ingredients

  • Singhara atta (water chestnut flour) – 1 cup

  • Black pepper powder – ½ tsp

  • Roasted cumin powder – 1 tsp

  • Rock salt (sendhanamak) as required

  • Grated ginger – 1 inch

  • Grated bottle gourd ( lauki) – 1 cup

  • Boiled potato, peeled and grated – 2 medium-sized

  • Coriander leaves or 2 green chilies

  • Desi ghee – 2 tbsp

Instructions

  • Take a mixing bowl, add singhara ka aata, add 1 water gradually to it while stirring the batter to avoid lumps, and make a running batter.

  • Now add sendhanamk, roasted cumin powder, black pepper powder, grated ginger, grated bottle gourd (lauki), boiled potato, and coriander leaves or green chilies.

  • If the batter became thick, add 1 cup of water till the batter become running and mix it well.

  • Now heat a pan on low to medium flame, add 1 tsp ghee, pour the batter and keep cooking, stirring till the batter becomes thick and start leaving the pan.

  • Transfer the cooked batter to a utensil greased with ghee making a thick layer and leave it to sit for 30 minutes.

  • After 30 minutes, cut the batter in a triangular shape (sandwich shape).

  • Again add ghee in a heated pan and put the cut pieces in the pan.

  • Cook till gets golden brown from both sides and serve the hot sandwich with coriander chutney.


Now go and try these recipes otherwise the days of your fasting will go with drained energy and resting on the bed.

 

By: Akansha Sinha, Sneha Agrawal & Vandana Sahu

(October 2020)

 

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