Friday , 22 March 2019

Science and beliefs behind the month of Shravana

The month of Shravana began on July 23 and the Hindu brethren in state follow it religiously, visiting temples and giving up non-vegetarian food. This fifth month of the Hindu calendar is regarded as the holiest, with several auspicious days throughout



The month of Shravana, most Hindus follow devoutly. Families visit temples and observe various fasts including abstaining from fish. Thus fish markets also see a dip in demand. They believe this will help cleanse themselves and also allow the fish to breed and multiply.

Following Shravana maas

Ulhas Bhat, a priest of Davorlim-based Maruti Mandir says that many people visit the temple in the month of Sharavana: “Usually, people visit the temple every Saturday, but you see more a larger crowd in temples during this month.” Devotees visit different temples on different days, Bhat says that one will notice much crowd on Mondays in temples of Lord Mahadeva, while on Saturdays devotees prefer to visit the Maruti temples across Goa.

The fifth month in the Hindu calendar begins on a full moon day and ends on the next full moon day and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. However, people follow strict fast (upvas) on certain all days during the week and spend time in prayer. These include worshiping Lord Shiva (Monday), Ganapati (Tuesday), Krishna (Wednesday), Vishnu (Thursday), Santoshi Mata (Friday) and Shani and Hanuman (Saturday).

According to Bhat, Shravana is considered auspicious with utmost importance as per the Hindu Puranas. He adds: “It is believed that this is the resting month for all Gods. When devotees pray during this month, Gods listen and bless them for their devotion. Devotion symbolises being good or doing good, not to harm or hurt others too.”

Since it coincides with mid-monsoons and a breeding season for fish, and thus one should consume vegetables that are available in abundance during this time.

Various hotels and restaurants in North and South Goa provide special Shravan Thali with all the delicious vegetarian specialities of this month, thus enabling devotees to maintain their vegetarian routine during their work hours. Teacher of Catering in Restaurant Management (CRM) at Jawaharlal Nehru Higher Secondary School, Fatorda, Alpana Sanvordekar gives us a list of specialities of Shravana month. These include Tandlachyo Muttlyo, Patoli, Rosatle Pole, Rasvade, Aluvadi, Alloo, and other common delicacies like Khatkhate, Moogacho Gathi, Raite that are prepared throughout the year in Hindu homes. She adds: “Rosatle Pole and Rasvade are the special delicacies, along with rice and sugary coconut milk (nallacho ros) which were prepared as a sweet dish in many homes. Now they are unheard and lost recipes of Goa.”

Fasting is not compulsory

With time, development and several other factors, many people believe that eating vegetarian or non-vegetarian food is one’s personal choice and it should be used to judge how religious he or she is. And thus there are some who either observe fast on a few days of the week (during Shravan) or don’t give up fish and meat at all.

Bhat highlights that fasting and abstinence is not a compulsion. People who face health issues like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure must limit their intake but shouldn’t follow the thorough routine of fasting.

Saile D Parodkar is a post-graduate student based in Margao who has been observing a fast and only eating vegetarian food during Shravana, since her childhood days. She says: “For the last 22 years my mother’s family stays vegetarian, and so do I. My mother fasts on certain days and in the late evening she eats fruits and vegetables, rice is avoided during the fast.” Following the path set by her grandparents, this Shravana routine has become a tradition in her family. Moreover, Saile’s mother prepares a sweet dish every Sunday and Friday, and first offers it to God. It is later shared by the family and is considered ‘naivedya’.

For many like Saile, this is also a good reason (or excuse) to maintain a healthy diet. Non-vegetarian food is often heavy to digest, and this period proved to be a break for the stomach as well. Thus while some people take Shravana seriously in keeping with their faith and religious beliefs, some follow it for health benefits and because of scientific reasoning. There are others who are vegetarian to adhere to family rules and traditions. For Saile who has been this routine over the last two decades, it proves to be a little difficult to put a stop it suddenly.

Science and Shravana

On the other hand, Sima Chimulkar, a doctor does not follow the vegetarian regime during the month of Shravana. She purely believes in science and says that the human body needs rest from intake of food and eating. Continuous and regular eating creates an imbalance in the system, and thus giving it some rest for while can aid digestion. However, one must always eat in limit and control their cravings for junk food to have an active lifestyle.

Another student from Margao, Mithila Naik is very fond of eating non-vegetarian and finds it difficult to resist it during Shravana. Her parents, however, stick to vegetarian cuisine. Mithila tells us that on regular basis she abstains from non-vegetarian food on Mondays and feels it is more than enough to keep her healthy and active. Considering that monsoons are breeding season for fish, she avoids sea food during this time.

String of festivals

Many festivals such as Saptah, Narali Poornima, Nag Panchami, Krishna Janmashthami, Raksha Bandhan are celebrated during Shravana and according to Sarita Malkarnekar, Headmistress and a science teacher of Bhatikar Model High School, Margao this is another reason why Hindus stay vegetarian. “It is not a compulsion for any Hindu to stay vegetarian during any festival. However, since it is traditionally followed by our ancestors and people do not break the tradition. There are some people who do not mind eating non-vegetarian on major festivals, and I feel it is fine. It depends from person to person.”

Aware of scientific reasons, Sarita says that plants and fruits are natural food for humans. “When you eat vegetables and fruits, it cleanses your body and is healthy for digestion,” she says.

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