A festival is a special occasion of feasting or celebration, usually with a religious focus. It helps us to keep connected to our roots, our culture, our values, our origin and to preserve it. It helps people come together and celebrate. Navratri is a post-monsoon festival which is dedicated to 9 forms of Durga. Navratri signifies a battle and victory of good over evil. Each day of Navratri is dedicated to different Avtaars of Goddess Durga. Devotees consider the fasts and festivals incomplete without offering Bhog. A distinct food and colour is attached to each day of Navratri. The different Prasad/bhog offered to the Goddess has different significance and health benefits as well. Most of us are not aware the benefits these Prasad. The Nine forms of Durga which is worshipped are Shailapurti, Brahmacharini, Chandarghanta, Kushmanda, Skand Mata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri.
Colour Blue is associated with Goddess Shailaputri. Devotees wear blue colour sabudana khichdi or rajgira laddoo is made for Prasad. Sabudana (sago) is a type of starch extracted from tropical palms like Metroxylon sagu. Sago contains antioxidants and resistant starch and has been linked to many benefits, including improving risk factors for heart disease and enhancing exercise performance. They are rich in carbs, an important source of energy for your body. It can be purchased in two main forms — flour or pearls. While the flour is pure starch, the pearls are small balls of sago that are made by mixing the starch with water and partially heating them. Naturally gluten-free, sago is a good substitute for wheat-based flour and grains in baking and cooking for those on restricted diets.
Amaranth (Rajgira) is high in protein and has an abundance of nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. This is the only grain to have vitamin C. It also has lysine, an amino acid, that helps to absorb calcium. Since it contains more calcium than milk, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Colour Yellow is associated with Goddess Brahmacharini and Prasad offered is singhara ata halwa or raw banana burfi. Singhara atta is gluten free and high on fibre. It gives you the feeling of being full, thereby, preventing you to binge on other high-fattening foods. Raw bananas are rich in vitamins. They comprise most essential vitamins and minerals, great for diabetics, are rich in fibre, prevents stomach problems and also helps in weight loss.
Colour green is associated with Goddess Chandraghanta, the Goddess of Peace & Serenity. Prasad offered is makhana kheer. Makhana are low in cholesterol, fat and sodium. They are beneficial to those suffering from high blood pressure, heart diseases and obesity due to their high magnesium and low sodium content.
Colour grey is offered to Goddess Kushmanda, worshipped to get rid of pain and diseases. Buckwheat atta malpua is offered in the form of bhog. It is great for heart health , promotes weight loss, and helps to manage diabetes. Buckwheat is a good source of protein, fiber, and energy and also improves digestion. It is considered as super food and is becoming popular among the gluten free crowd.
Colour orange is associated with Goddess Skandmata. Ripe banana is offered as Prasad.
Banana is heavyweight when it comes to nutrition. It is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6. These all contribute to the proper functioning of the body and keeping you healthy.
Due to the high iron content in bananas, they are good for those suffering from anaemia.
Colour White is associated with Goddess Katyayani and honey is offered as Prasad. We are now very well aware of the benefits of honey. To add some more to it they are rich in antioxidants and helps in weight management. It is excellent for skin which helps in reducing wrinkles and fine lines on face. It helps to lower blood pressure and helps to improve cholesterol.
Colour red is associated with Goddess Kaalratri and jaggery is offered as Prasad. Generates heat inside the body, boosts immunity within the body. It also prevents constipation and enhances the production of digestive enzymes. Helps in preventing joint pain and detoxifies the body. Jaggery eases menstrual cramp pain and as it is rich in iron content, prevents anemia.
Sky blue is associated with Mahagauri and coconut is offered as Prasad. Coconut contains vitamin B6, iron, and minerals like magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. About half of the saturated fat in coconut comes from lauric acid, which can help raise levels of heart-protective HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Colour Pink is associated with Goddess Siddhidatri. Dishes like halwa, puri and chana are offered as bhog as devotees break their nine day fast and worship all nine form of Goddess Durga.
It is important to go back to our roots and understand our culture, tradition, festivals, food associated to those festivals and the health benefits of every Prasad offered. In olden days people did not know what about calories or carbohydrates or nutritive values of food. Yet they lead a healthy, happy and disease free life. Today we are moving away from our culture and from roots, especially our traditional food. So this Navratri, let’s promise to go back to our roots and make our lives healthier and happier.