Maharashtrian Upvas (Fasting) Recipes and Foods
In Maharashtra at home, they clean the puja ghar, give a bath to the God’s idol with chandan or utna (a fragrant herb paste), offer fresh flowers and garland, doop or agarbathi and aarthi with ghee or camphor as per their practice. It is also auspicious to do puja with tulsi leaves. It is also customary to make Panchamrut or Trithamrut. Panchamrut consists of five elements like milk, curds, honey, pure cow’s ghee and sugar. A few tulsi leaves may also be added. Many people also break a coconut and offer to God along with sweets, which are later distributed to others as prasad. Some offer fruits as bhog.
Only sattvik foods are to be consumed during a fast. Normally, grains are not consumed. Many fasts also have specific rules. For example, some people observe a no-salt fast on Tuesdays. Likewise, those who fast for Santhoshimata, do not have sour foods. Some people take curds during a fast, while many people especially in South India have curds only when they break the fast and not during the fast. Likewise, some communities do not have coriander and mint while fasting. So, it is best to know the rules of your fast from an elderly person at home or your family priest, and plan your meals accordingly.
Morning Fast for Maharashtrians
Generally, you can start your day with a breakfast of fruits with a hot beverage like tea, coffee or milk. Try the Fresh Fruit Salad with Basil Dressing, Fruit and Nut Milkshake, Masala Milk or South Indian Filter Coffee.
Lunch Fast for Maharashtrians
For lunch, you can have some dishes made of kand like Sweet Potato Rabadi, Sweet Potato Khichdi, Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes or Potato Khichdi. Sabudana Khichdi or Sama Pulao with a peanut based accompaniment like peanut curry or chutney makes a sumptuous meal. You can also go for something crunchy like the Potatoes and Buckwheat Pakora. Add some fruits to the meal too.
Evening before Upvaas is broken Bhog is offered
In the evening, before ending the fast, they perform aarti and offer naivedya or panchpakwaan bhog to the God. This includes some sweet dish like kheer , srikand, basundi or rava sheera. If the fast is for Ganpati, then it is customary to offer modak or ladoos. Delight your favourite deity with delicious offerings like Steamed or Fried Modak, Puris and Mango Shrikhand, Puran Poli, Basundi or Varan Bhaat. When you are short of time, go for something quick and easy like the Rava Sheera. South Indian delicacies like the Paal Payasam are also mouth-watering treats ideal to make for naivedya.
Saatvik Food eaten after Maharashtrian fast broken in the Evening
After aarti and naivedya, the fast is broken by eating regular but saatvik food like rice, dal, chapatis and subzis. Some fasts are broken on the same evening while others are ended only the following morning. In South India for example, the Ekadashi fast is broken only the next morning by having a special meal called the Dwadashi Parana, which is cooked without tamarind and raw bananas. It includes amla and sundaikkai (Turkey Berry), simply boiled or prepared as a raita. The meal also includes rice, some subzis, Mor Kuzhambu (a gravy made of curds) and Lemon Rasam.
Perhaps because of the devotion that goes into the cooking or because of our peaceful state of mind and increased concentration during a fast, the faraali dishes always turn out to be awesomely tasty. So tasty that they are often wiped out by friends and family who are not fasting! So make sure you make generous amounts of the fasting food and bhog as well!
Rituals of how Maharashtrians Fast
Fasting is a practice that is closely intertwined with Hindu culture. It is a way of enforcing mastery over our senses, focusing on prayers to God rather than sensory pleasures like food. A religious fast is very different from the modern notion of fasting and dieting for detoxification, weight loss, etc. In a religious fast, the fasting principles combine abstinence with religious rituals. By consuming sattvik foods and focusing on God, both our mind and our body get detoxified in an enduring and effective way.
For full benefits, you need to systematically follow the fasting practices. Generally, those on a fast get up early in the morning and take abhyanga bath to purify their body. Women make sure they wash their hair on fasting days. Then, they wear clean clothes and visit a nearby temple of the God whom they are fasting in honour of. For example, if they are fasting on Monday, they visit a Shiva temple; on Tuesday, they go to Ganpati mandir or Durgamata temple; on Thursday, they go to Saibaba mandir or Gurudutt mandir; on Friday, they go to Durgamata or Santoshimata temple; and on Saturday, they will worship at Shanidev or Hanuman temple.
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