Sharad Navratri 2023 begins today (October 15, 2023). The nine-day festivities of Navratri worship various incarnations of Goddess Durga and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. This is also the time when devotees observe a period of fasting, following a restricted diet to cleanse the body and also prepare it for the change of season, from monsoon to winter. Food ingredients like whole grains (wheat and rice), table salt, non-vegetarian items, alcohol, onion, garlic and a few other ingredients are a strict no-no. But what about your morning cup of coffee? Is it allowed?
The answer is not that simple. While some people believe that only tea should be consumed during the fasting period, coffee lovers stand against the claim. Then there are those who believe that both drinks are allowed to be consumed during the fasting period. Famous food writer Anoothi Vishal says, “There is nothing written in stone like Navratri fasting rules. I think it is more of a personal choice. Over the years people have made these rules. Navratri is a period when you restrict yourself from certain foods to cleanse your body . While grains and non-vegetarian dishes are strictly prohibited, beverages like tea and coffee are okay to be consumed.”
Shalini Nandwani, a resident of Delhi who has observed the Navratri fast for 20 years, says: “In our family, coffee and tea are both allowed during the Navratri fast, as well as other drinks like chaas and fresh fruit juice. Packaged or processed drinks are usually avoided.”
Homemaker Madhu Bhasin says, “We have followed Navratri for many years and have always consumed tea and coffee. What we try to avoid are packaged and processed drinks and other products as they contain preservatives and artificial agents.”
Homemaker Sarabjeet Singh says, “Coffee may be higher in caffeine than tea, but I don’t see why it should be avoided during the Navratri fast when tea is enjoyed everywhere. Back then, coffee was not a popular mass drink in India, and it still isn’t compared to tea. I doubt that there were ever any rules formulated against its consumption during Navratri. It is really a personal choice. What is more important is to avoid whole grains, meat, eggs, alcohol, onions, garlic and excessive spices during this period.”
Also read: Best Vrat Recipes,Kuttu recipes, Paneer recipes, Vrat Wale Aalo.
Traditionally, Navratri fasts were observed with the changing season in mind. To protect the body against various infections, selective foods were included in the diet. Masaledar drinks were avoided and light drinks like plain chaas were traditionally consumed. Today, both tea and coffee, as well as fresh fruit juice and milkshakes, are consumed by many people observing Navratri fasts.