PM Modi in his monthly radio telecast of ‘Mann ki Baat 2.0 Part 15’ on 30th August 2020 urged the nation to observe the month of September as the National Nutrition month in India. Last year during the same time, under the guidance of the then Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, September was observed as the ‘Poshan Maah’ (the Hindi word for nutrition month).
The National Nutrition month in India is aimed at various topics like nutrition in children, lactating mothers, pregnant women, etc. All of this comes under one movement- the Eat Right Movement, which is a people’s movement.
So, the whole gist of the National Nutrition month filters down to eating right. What does Ayurveda say about this month?
What happens in the month of September in India?
The month of September marks the end of the rainy season and the start of the next season which is Autumn. Yes, Autumn and not winter! Unlike what we were taught in school, there are 3 more seasons other than summer, rainy and winter!
The six seasons are:
• Shishir (Winter)
• Vasant (Spring)
• Grishma (Summer)
• Varsha (Rainy)
• Sharad (Autumn)
• Hemant (Pre-winter)
The transition from one season to another is called Ritu Sandhi. Ritu Sandhi generally comprises of the last week of the previous season and the first week of the next season. It is important to sail safely through the Ritu Sandhi kaal as this is the time when we sow seeds to various health problems.
The month of September marks the Ritu Sandhi of Varsha ritu (Rainy season) and Sharad ritu (Autumn season); it is basically a season of transition.
During the Rainy season, the Pitta dosha accumulates in the body. It doesn’t cause much harm in this season due to the colder climate outside. The external cold traps the Pitta inside the body and helps to maintain the temperature and heat of the body.
The rainy season gradually ends in September and heat starts to set in. The Pitta starts melting due to the hot climate, thus it increases in quantity and becomes dominant now. So, how should you balance the Pitta? How should you protect your health in September?
According to Ayurveda What Should You Do in the National Nutrition Month in India?
Things to do in September:
1. Eat foods that are sweet, bitter, astringent in taste.
• Sweet foods: Raisins, fruits, coconut, rock sugar, Khajur (dates)
• Bitter foods: Bitter gourd, other vegetables
• Astringent- Honey, Amla
2. You must say a strict NO to these things: Curd, excess salt, pickles, day-sleep, concentrated alcohol, spicy food
3. These 3 tastes should be strictly avoided- Salty, spicy and sour
4. Coriander also calms down the Pitta dosha. Have it abundantly through your daily diet- in dals, over salads etc.
5. Dhanyak heem– Take Coriander seeds popularly called ‘Dhaniya seeds’ 1 part, Jeera 1/4th part, boil it in 6 parts of water, and leave it at room temperature to cool down overnight (do not cover it with lid). Drink this water when you feel thirsty.
6. Toor dal increases Pitta. So better avoid it in this month. Use Moong dal in abundance.
7. To calm down the body externally, Vagbhat (the preacher of Ayurveda) in the 4th chapter of his text tells to use Chandan (sandal), Ushir (Vetiver), Kapur (Camphor), Pearls, flowers and light clean clothes.
8. Chandan (Sandalwood) paste is a Pitta-pacifier. Apply it on your forehead and wash after drying. While making its paste, do it with your bare hands so that its cooling properties will be transferred to you even like that.
9. The herb Ushir or Vetiver is a coolant and should be used for application in this season to soothe the skin.
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10. Ghrita is a good remedy for Pitta dosha. Incorporate it in your diet.
11. Ghrita which is enriched with herbs, especially bitter herbs, is a blessing. Consuming this doesn’t need anything but courage; Courage of merely a minute to eat something bitter!
13. Eat Raisins: Take half a cup of raisins, wash and drain the water, chew them properly and eat.
12. Virechan (purgation) and Raktamokshan (blood-letting) are the go-to procedures once more heat sets in.
The transition of our diet from Rainy season to Autumn should not be sudden. You need to slowly change to this diet over 15 days.
This is how Ayurveda tells to observe the month of September. More than concentrating on what the government does for nutrition, we should see what we can do for our own health. Very rightly, the National Nutrition Month in India is in fact, a people’s movement- by the people, for the people, of the people!