The benefits of fasting are now acknowledged universally however, the traditional roots of fasting can be found in ancient Indian culture. It is our cultural heritage, expressed even today, as a form of worship, penance or even offering to deities. Each fast has a religious and cultural significance and ritual and one of the most important fasts in Hindu households is the Karwa Chauth, observed by married women.
Ayurvedic Benefits of Observing Karwa Chauth
Karwa chauth is observed to wish for longevity and good health of the husband, but fasting has several health benefits too. Here are some of the most significant ones:
Enhances Smriti & Dhriti: Fasting has a direct positive effect on brain chemistry. New neurons are formed during fasting and this improves brain functions and gives more mental clarity.
Removes Toxins from Strotas: The channels (strotas) in the human body that are responsible for carrying dhatus and other nutrients throughout the body become clogged with ama over time. Fasting allows the body to flush these toxins out and promotes overall health.
Overhauls Immunity: Fasting promotes autophagy, a natural process in our body which recycles old cells and creates new cells. During this process, old white blood cells are recycled and new ones are formed. This gives your body a completely new immune system.
Ayurvedic Recommendations on Fasting
Karwa Chauth is a day-long fasting ritual that is accompanied by pooja. Fasting, according to Ayurveda, can be done in four different ways:
1. Nirjala fasting: This means the person undergoing the fast cannot eat any solid or liquid food, including water. Total fasting decreases Agni and increases Vata Dosha, hence it should be done only by healthy women in the presence of other family members.
2. Juice fasting: For people of Vata type or Vata- Pitta type, total fasting is not recommended. Juice fasting is a healthier option for people with this body type.
3. Fruit fasting: In most cases, working women cannot observe a strict fast because of the nature of their lifestyle. Under such circumstances, fruit fasting is the best option.
4. Kitchari Cleanse: This is recommended for women in their advanced age or with certain health conditions which makes it necessary for them to eat. Sattvic Kitchari without spices, drinking coconut water or fruit juices is a good way to observe a fast.
Fasting Pro Tip:
Sargi is the traditional term for the early morning breakfast that women observing Karwa Chauth have before beginning the day of fast. A Sattvic Sargi should include fresh cow’s milk, ghee, kesar, cardamom seeds, sugar & assorted chopped nuts.