Aye Halo: Revel in the festive fervour of Navratri as we share stories about history, food, music, fashion & much more.

It’s that colourful time of the year again! Intensify your preparations and get ready for one of the most significant and vibrant Hindu festivals: Navratri! Chaitra Navratri marks the beginning of the first quarter of 2023. Navratri is a nine-day celebration during which people fast and worship the goddess Durga in her 9 distinct forms. Every day is attributed to a different goddess form of Maa Durga. People worship the divine energy and celebrate Navratri with relentless fervour, devotion, and excitement.

When it comes to celebrating and fasting during this festival, there are many scientific reasons ascertaining the logic behind commemorating it at certain times of the year.

The Science Behind Navratri

The festival of Navratri takes place twice every year with the exception of ‘Gupt Navratri‘ which makes it a total of four Navratris in the annual Gregorian calendar. However, the main Navratri celebrations and fasting take place twice annually – Chaitra Navratri (March – April) and Shardiya Navratri (September – October). This timeline is based on the transition phase from one Ritu (season) to another; an important junction of climate change.

chaitra navratri 2023 fasting

So basically, Navratri is observed once at the beginning of summer and next at the beginning of winter. There’s a scientific reason that validates why Navratri is celebrated twice a year. If you observe the pattern, it is celebrated at two junctures of seasonal change. During this time our body’s immunity is at its all-time low. According to Ayurveda, eating foods like garlic, onion, meat, grains, and eggs can end up attracting negative energies from the surroundings. Eating such negative-energy foods can make you prone to diseases. 

Also Read: Navratri’s History: Honouring the Nine Forms of the Divine Mother

The Science Behind Navratri Fasting

Our planet Earth’s axis is tilted at 23.5 degrees due to which we experience seasonal changes. The Equinoxes, meaning “equal night,” and Solstices are directly related to the change of seasons throughout the year. This quarter northern hemisphere of the planet becomes gentle because it receives the least amount of sunlight from Oct to Nov, post which the days get shorter and nights longer. 

earth's seasons change navratri fasting science

Our biological cycles (sleep-wake cycle) undergo changes and reconcile throughout Navratri since significant weather changes take place during that time. Our immune system weakens by exposure to cold/ hot temperatures. A study found that the composition of our blood and fat, as well as our immune cells, are all impacted by the seasons. Experts suggest that fasting during Navratri helps detoxify your body.

Devotees practise intermittent fasting also known as “upvas” for these nine days while eating light “Saatvik” food. Saatvik foods are considered as being pure, and wholesome, and facilitate peacefulness. They also aid in cleansing, providing a break to the digestive system, and strengthening their lining. Abstaining from heavy foods like meat, chicken, eggs, grains, spices, etc. for these nine days helps our immune system to prepare for the coming season.

How Fasting Helps

Many studies have proven that fasting has many advantages. It mainly aids in toxin removal and enhances the body’s digestive system. The absence of normal glucose supply during fasting causes the body to start the process of gluconeogenesis, which forces blood cells to make energy. The body produces sugar as a natural mechanism. Moreover, the liver assists in the conversion of non-carbohydrate substances like lipids, amino acids, and lactate into glucose energy.

gluconeogenesis navratri fasting science human body glucose

While fasting, the body’s efficiency increases because energy is conserved and the metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure slow down. The body also goes through a quick cycle called ketosis, which burns fat reserves. Since stored lipids are the main energy source during this fast, it is perfect for reducing weight and stabilising blood sugar levels.

This process is similar to how muscles are built. During workouts, we put a lot of strain on our muscles and cardiovascular system, and after a period of rest and recovery, our bodies get stronger. Fasting causes a modest amount of stress on the body, which helps cells adapt and improves their resistance to many diseases and outside threats. Because of these reasons, short-term fasting is advised and has numerous positive effects on health.

The Ayurveda Behind Foods

According to Ayurveda, foods are divided into 3 categoriesRajasic foods, Tamasic foods, and Saatvik foods. Rajas and Tamas are described as unripe, weak, spiteful, and harmful entities. Derived from the word “sattva,” Saatvik implies something pure, natural, authentic, fresh, clean, and energetic. The common Saatvik foods allowed during the nine-day Navratri fasting include fresh fruits, seasonal vegetables, curd, kuttu aata, sabudana, samak rice, dairy products, and sendha namak.

navratri fasting saatvik food science

Benefits of Fasting

– It helps to improve blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance.

– Fasting helps to normalize the immune process to fight off infections.

– It improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels and overall heart health.

– It has a powerful effect on brain health.

– Fasting is a quick option to limit calorie intake and it improves metabolism rate which helps to lose weight naturally. 

– Fasting helps to increase the level of human growth hormones. 

– It slows down the DNA degradation process and accelerates its repair by increasing the antioxidant level.

The festival of Navratri is the ideal time to establish a connection between individual consciousness with the divine. Moreover, keep in mind that you should not force yourself to fast or starve without understanding the nature of it all. Understanding the “why” behind religious practices helps us know , respect and follow the traditions better.