Brief Ritucharya for 6 seasons

Note – One important thing to note is that everything is described in context of an average healthy body, assuming no chronic or severe diseases, like the body of a young adult. So it is always good to assess your body and apply the health practices accordingly. However following Ritucharya will always prevent any further aggravation of any disease already present.

This is a brief description of the ideal Ritucharya for the 6 seasons.

Hemant

The first season described in the Charak Samhita is Hemant. This is considered to be one of the healthiest seasons as no Dosha gets accumulated in this season, the digestive fire and the body strength is best in Hemant. If health practices are ideal then Hemant can serve as a rejuvenation period, which can compensate for the wrongs of entire year.

It is said that the digestive fire is at its best in Hemant, so anything eaten can get digested properly. It is suggested that a person should eat more food than normal and exercise more to digest it. This is a good time for rigorous exercises or bodybuilding. The momentum of metabolism achieved at this time keeps the body healthy for rest of the year. It is like taking your vehicle uphill for a petrol free ride down the slope. Immunity is a factor to the healthy rate of metabolism, so this is the time to also build up body stamina and immunity.

There is also an equal flipside to this benefit. If the proper and adequate food is not consumed then the digestive fire will destroy the Dhatu of the body as the fire that burns the house if not controlled in the fireplace. Vata gets vitiated as the digestive fire destroys the body substance and increases the space, which is the quality of Vata.

This can be understood as the digestion of body fat due to inadequate food intake. Body fat acts as insulation against the cold, if it gets digested and is reduced than the natural protection against the cold is lost. Also eventually this leads to decrease in hunger also since the body receives the signal that the food is not available and reduces the amount of digestive juices to prevent damage to the stomach lining (ulcers). So winter is not the ideal time to start a diet program!

In Hemant, the environment is at its coldest. Recommended food in Hemant consist of oily, sour, salty food, flesh of aquatic and animals found or born in cold climate (these animals have more fat to help them survive in the cold) for example sheep etc. Roasted flesh should be preferred over the fried one (because meat contains ample fats) , Sweet food along with jaggery etc. and milk products are highly recommended. Fatty food, new rice and warm water should be used for consumption. Water is not digested, but is readily absorbed by intestine, so it produces no heat by digestion but immediately brings down the internal temperature of the stomach. Therefore cold water should not be consumed at all because it harms the normal digestion and results in toxin production.

Hemant Vihar – herbal Oil massage, Ubtan (body pack), head massage, Steam (sauna), sunshine and use of underground apartments is highly preferable. Aguru is an herb that should be used in skin ointments during cold weather. Also this season is ideal for sexual intercourse.

The proscribed ones are less and light food intake, exposure to wind, consuming sattu with cold water and sugar.

Sattu is considered to be of cold temperament. This probably means that the amount of heat consumed during digestion is higher than the amount of heat produced. So the overall effect of Sattu is cooling. Together with cold water and sugar, it becomes worse in Hemant.

Shishir

Shishir Ritucharya: It is almost same as Hemant Ritucharya. Person should eat more of sour, bitter food than normal consumption.

Vasant

Vasant Ritucharya: According to Charak, Kapha deposited in Hemant starts melting in Vasant due to the sun’s heat and pollutes the digestive fire, thus producing various diseases. This can be understood as the extra mucus flowing back to the blood and thereby to the liver to get excreted. This might spoil the quality of bile secreted from the liver or spleen functions, where the blood gets purified.

Panchkarma (esp. vomiting) should be used in Vasant Ritu to expel the Kapha and purify the body, after proper preparations. Kapha resides in the upper clavicle region and chest. Medicated vomiting clears the throat and chest area and removes any congestion or heaviness due to Kapha.

Vihar in Vasant: Exercise, Body pack (Ubtan), smoking, medicated gargle (Kaval), use of Kajal, bathing in warm water. Use of chandan and aguru based body ointment.

There is an indication of use of aromatherapy in Vasant. Stay in gardens and forests, full of flowers, is highly recommended. Medium involvement in Sex is advised in Vasant.

Vihar is slightly more important in Vasant in the way that Kapha can be better controlled by a combination of exercise and diet than only by recommended meal. External factors like exercise, smoking, hot bath can control Kapha more effectively than medication (in preventive situation), unlike other Dosha.

Aahar: Use of old grains (1 year old) like jowar, wheat, and flesh of deer, rabbit, pigeon, and quail bird is recommended. All these proteins are said to be “Deepan”, that is they are easy to digest and fuel the digestive fire (it is like putting dry shredded wood on fire). Wine made from sugarcane or mahua (butter tree) should be consumed to aid digestion.

Prohibited in Vasant: Heavy and difficult to digest, sour, oily, sweet food and sleeping in the daytime.

Holi is an important festival that veils an important Ayurvedic procedure for skin protection. Earlier colours were made of “flame of forest” or Tesu for orange colour and turmeric for yellow colour. Flowers of flame of forest have antifungal properties, good for prevention of skin disorders especially fungal infections. Turmeric contains antiseptic properties.

 

Grishma

Ritucharya in Grishma (summer): Sun takes away the water of all the elements and creatures by its direct rays. Therefore use of sweet, cold or slightly warm, fresh and moist food is recommended.

In this season, body is weakened by the continuous effort to maintain homeostasis in the hot external conditions. It is difficult since the heat is produced inside the body also, because of digestion. So it is advisable to eat food that is light and easily digestible so that the amount of heat produced while digestion is less.

It is said that the person who uses Sattu mixed in cold water with sugar, soup made from meat of animals and birds found in the plains, ghee, milk and Shali rice (a variety of rice) in summer, does not fall sick. One should consume the seasonal fruits in large quantity, esp. heat busters like mango, watermelon etc.

Amrakalp

There is a special rejuvenation treatment associated with mango, called Amrakalp, recommended in summer. It is a technique that involves eating only mangoes for 45 days approx., according to the body strength and constitution. The normal food should be replaced gradually with mangoes with the start of Grishma sandhikal. First, the dinner should be replaced (first 5 days), then the daily snacks and lunch (next 5 days) and the breakfast(5 days) as the summer progresses. The person should not be exposed to outside heat, sunlight or wind during this period. After the complete replacement of meals, mango meals should be continued for 10-15 days and then gradually replaced by Varsha food, stepwise. First , replace the breakfast( 5 days), lunch and snacks (next 5 days) and the finally the dinner (last 5 days).

Proscribed in summer:  No liquor should not be consumed as a drink. If required, it should be consumed after mixing large amount of water. Use of too salty, sour, bitter and hot food, too much exercise and sex is prohibited. In short, anything which makes the body hot is prohibited.

Vihar in summer:  Stay in Shital Griha (AC nowadays, otherwise house in greenery, with ventilators, water sprinklers, shutters to prevent heating etc.). Sleeping on the terrace when moon is visible with light breeze, after anointing the body with fragrant herbs like chandan, is recommended. Aromatherapy also helps in alleviating the effect of foul smell of sweat and has a cool and soothing effect.

Varsha

Varsha Ritucharya: After Aadan kal, rasa (juice) of the body is evaporated and digestive fire is weakened. This weakened fire is again polluted by the vitiated Vata in Varsha as discussed earlier.

It is said that the rain water falls on the heated ground and is evaporated again, to rain back, till the land is cooler; the water retains the acid in the atmosphere and together with the weakened digestive fire, can causes lots of diseases. Water purification and treatment is of utmost importance.

Vata is the king of Dosha, it can vitiate all Dosha. Therefore the purification and treatment techniques for all the Dosha are recommended in Varsha.

Prohibited in the Rains (Varsha):

Consumption of sattu mixed with water, sleeping in the daytime, sleeping in the open, walking on or drinking dew water / river water, exercise, sun light and sex are strictly prohibited. The prohibitions are a combination to prevent vitiation of all 3 Dosha.

In rainy season, many insects and reptiles come up on the surface of earth, because of water submerging their homes. So especially in leafy vegetables, there is a high probability of finding worms and insects.

Therefore it is advised to consume the leafy vegetables with a lot of care or better still not to consume such vegetables at all.

Use of Honey is highly recommended in Varsha. Use of sour, salty and little oily food should be consumed.

The one who wants to protect his digestive fire should use old jowar, wheat and rice (Shali rice is a variety highly preferable), herbed meat of jangal (Appendix 5) animals or birds and soups.

In Varsha, one should consume – liquor made from butter tree (mahua) mixed with honey, arishta (wines) / water. Liquor is a good way to increase the heat production in the body. The rain water should be boiled and used.

Preservation of digestive power is of supreme importance in Varsha. Therefore healthy eating habits are very important. Drinking maximum 1 glass normal water in between the meals helps in digestion, drinking water before or right after the meal dilute the digestive juices which leads to improper digestion, resulting in toxins and gas.

 

Ubtan, herbal bath, herbal ointments, light clothes and stay in dry place is recommended in rains. Staying in humid places, when the body is in sweat producing mode during early rains, might cause skin infections.

Sharad

Sharad Ritucharya: In Varsha, the body gets used to moist atmosphere. Now the inertia of the body finally adjusts to the lower temperatures, cooling system shuts down completely and Vata comes to regains its proportion in the body. In many places, sun is not visible for many days due to cloudy weather. The appearance of sun in Sharad makes the diminished Pitta to get vitiated as discussed earlier. The blood supply is ample to the skin during rains, also the sebaceous secretions, to prevent microbial growth. As the sunlight hits the skin warmed by blood, there is excess heat, which travels through blood back in the body, causing Pitta vitiation.

Aahar: According to Charak, in Sharad Ritu one should consume sweet, easily digestible, cool temperament, sour and Pitta balancing diet, on feeling hungry, in appropriate quantity.

Now hunger and appropriate quantity is very important here. One should avoid junk food. Seasonal vegetables like bitter gourd are good for consumption.

Vihar: Sleeping in the daytime is prohibited in Sharad as it aggravates Kapha. As the nights are long enough for a good sleep and the climate is getting cooler, extra sleep in the day time will slow down the digestion, reduce hunger and will create toxins.

Charak advises for use of seasonal flowers for aromatherapy in Sharad.

Prohibited in Sharad: Sitting for long time in the sunlight, heavy consumption of fats, oil, aquatic or marine animals like duck and fish, acidic food, curd, daytime sleep.

Note: – Digestive power is a relative aspect and differs from person to person and in different conditions for the same person. So the best factor for determining digestion is hunger. One should be observant of his hunger – quality and frequency. One should not have food without being hungry. Eating in between the meals should be minimized; also you should eat properly during the meals so that you don’t feel hungry in between.

Hunger should not be suppressed. In Vataj Prakruti, it causes decreased digestive power and bloating, in Pittaj Prakruti it causes acidity and burning sensation, even ulcers. In Kaphaj Prakruti, it causes indigestion.


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