Posted on August 15 2020
Paryushan is an eight day spiritual celebration festival observed by the followers of the religion Jainism. Marking the end of monsoon or rainy season, these eight days are the most sacred for a Jain follower. This one week is often observed for spiritual uplifting and epitome of sacrifice. The religion Jainism is set on five main laws, namely:
- Ahimsa (Non- violence)
- Satya (Truth)
- Asteya (Abstinence from stealing)
- Bhramacharya (Chastity)
- Aparigraha (Abstinence from possession)
Though Jain's tend to abide by these (and many more) laws all year around, these eight day's are marked aside to obtain the highest level of purity. The end of this festival is often accompanied by observing silence (prayer) and seeking forgiveness from all souls (embodied and otherwise).
Fasting (or all or some of these eight days) is often a practice many followers seek to. Unlike using fasting as a form of 'punishment' and 'repentant for sins', Jain's fast as a means to divert the attention from food into self awareness and bring focus towards meditative practices. We often associate food with emotions and pleasure. During these eight days, food is merely looked upon as fuel for the body.
Jainism's core principle remains to be 'ahimsa' or 'non- violence'. Even besides these eight days, Jain followers refrain from eating meat to avoid the unnecessary slaughter of animals and doing them harm. In fact, most even refrain from root vegetables such as onion and potatoes because uprooting the vegetable from the ground destroys the entire plant unlike plucking an apple which only will affect one fruit.
During these holy eight day's though, people abstain from all sorts of fruits, vegetables and anything else harvested fresh. Forget animals, no plants are also given pain by plucking their parts during these eight days.
But if one is not fasting, what does one eat? Grains, lentils, beans, pulses and anything that was harvested before the start of the eight days.
One also refrains from eating after sunset, when the activity of the air borne insects is high and might involuntarily end up on one's plate.
Complete fasting, fasting with the permission to have warm water, eating one time a day, eating two meal's a day and eating before sunset are all common practices during these eight day's. Followers might choose to follow any of the combinations of the above during this period.
However, devotional followers who often lead an unhealthy lifestyle all year long find it difficult to fast during these eight day's. Thought their heart's maybe in the right place, their bodies often do not cooperate. They might experience migraines, drop in blood- glucose levels, nauseous, vomiting, leaky gut and other digestive issues. The below tips might help some of you ease your fasting experience. Make sure to read all the way till the end where I share my top three favorite recipes to dry during these holy days.
Health tips to observe during Paryushan.
1) Mint tea: If you choose to only eat one or two meal's a day, make sure to end your meal with a cup of plain mint tea (water and dried mint leaves boiled). Mint naturally soothes the digestive track and also helps with headache's. Headache's are often a sign of detox. During prolonged fasting periods, the body tries and rid itself of as many toxin's as possible. These manifest in the form of ache or headaches (among other symptoms). Mint speeds the detox process without leading to digestive discomfort.
Often, if you have been following a healthy lifestyle throughout the year and staying away from food borne toxins such as dairy, meat and oil's, you should not experience any headache's while fasting at all.
2) Saunf water: Because lentil's and pulses form the core food group during paryushan feast, the body often times gets more proteins than it is used to. Proteins are hard to digest, unlike carbs and lead to bloating and uneasiness.
Having a cup of saunf water in between meals helps with breaking down the amino acids in the proteins and ease digestion. Chewing on saunf seeds by itself can be a great idea. Please do not overdo this though as it may lead to diarrhea.
3) Asafoetida (hing): Often used in Indian cooking this herb is quite magical in aiding the body cure gastric. Fasting for prolonged periods often can cause gas and acidity. Just 1/2 a teaspoon of hing mixed in warm water and consumed on an empty stomach does the trick. In fact, this herb is so powerful that applying hing paste around the navel is enough to start reliving some of the pain caused from gastric.
If you are fasting and do not want to consume Asafoetida, I highly suggest applying the paste around your navel. It smells pungent, but will keep the pain away.
4) Ditch dairy: Cow's milk contains something called casomorphins. Components of milk are as addictive as drugs like cocaine. Need I say, equally harmful. Read this blog to understand more:
If a sudden crash in blood sugar or insulin resistance is your side effect from fasting. Chances are that just by dropping dairy from your diet, your blood sugar will stay in the optimal range. A plant- based diet is after all used to help reverse diabetes. I suggest dropping dairy one month before paryushan to experience a smooth fasting experience, but dropping it during these eight day's is also a good start.
5) Ajwain: Ever noticed how ajwain seeds are using in samosa's, pakodas and many things fried? This is because it is a great digestive and anti- inflammatory. Prolonged hours of sitting for meditative practices during paryushan can often lead to heart burn. This coupled with the lack of prebiotics from not consuming vegetables, greens and fruits might lead to an upset stomach.
Ajwain seeds aid regular motion and are also anti- bacterial in nature. Breaking your fast with ajwain water is a good idea.
Personal note: All the above points set aside, if fasting is a source of stress for you, and leads to additional anxiety, I would suggest you to avoid the same. Paryushan is a time for internal reflection and spiritual growth. If you have to miss a satsang or prayer because you are too week from fasting, you are probably better of not doing it.
Instead of waiting for eight day's in a year, practice fasting in some form such as intermittent fasting, going raw vegan once a week, juice fasting etc a few times a year to build up resilience. Switching to a more alkaline diet high in fruits and vegetables will keep the body detox'ed so you experience the least symptoms from fasting.
Must try recipes!
1) Missi Paratha with horsegram chutney
I had my first Missi paratha at my Punjabi boyfriends home and am (or leftover daal) hooked ever since! This simple yet power packed recipe is a must try:
For the paratha:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour.
- 1/2 cup any cooked lentils (or leftover daal).
- Pinch of kasturi methis.
- Pinch of ajwain seeds.
- 1 tsp dry mango powder.
- Pinch of red chilly powder and turmeric.
- Salt to taste.
- Water to kneel the dough.
Add the daal or lentils to the dough and kneel just like a regular dough. The lentil's and whole wheat flour makes this dish high in proteins and prebiotics.
For the horsegram chutney:
The above recipe works great without using coriander and switching the fresh grated coconut with dried coconut too.
2) Sooji Halve
- 1 cup sooji.
- 3 tbsp vegan ghee.
- 300 ml soy milk.
- 5/6 chopped almonds.
- 1 tsp cardamom powder.
- 1 tsp nutmeg.
- 3-4 strands of kesar.
Bring the milk to a boil and mix in the cardamom powder, nutmeg and kesar. Set this aside.
In a non- stick pan, dry roast the sooji for 3- 4 minutes. Add the ghee while simultaneously reducing the flame to the sooji. Keep constantly stirring for another 4- 5 minutes. Once the aroma changes and the sooji is cooked, add in the almonds. Finally, add the flavored milk on a low flame and stir constantly till you reach the desired consistency.
3) Energy Balls:
Click here for the recipe.
I absolutely love these because they are not very high in volume but packed with energy. Highly suggest you prepare these before hand and store them.
If you are looking to loose or gain weight on Jain Diet, you can checkout my customised diet plans here.
Leave a comment below with your favorite recipe. I promise to share it if I like it and even tag you in this post!