In this blog, we are going to discuss Varsha Ritu in detail.
The best translation of ritucharya is seasonal conditioning of the body as prevention against diseases and aging.
In India, we have well-defined six seasons. However, in many Western countries, they have four visibly distinct seasons – winter, autumn, summer, and spring. An elaborate rainy season(Varsha) or Shishir(late autumn) might be hard to witness.
However, seasonal changes occur due to the movement of the earth around the Sun and changes in the distance from the Sun. Lunar months keep on changing with respect to the solar calendar. However, solar months are stable. Therefore, we have a leap year to adjust the difference between the lunar and the solar calendar. I find solar months to be more reliable as a base for ritucharya. This concept can help people in the west to accommodate the food and lifestyle according to the changing seasons.
It is essential to note that the seasonal do’s and don’ts differ according to the land, climate, and culture. Below are some of the guidelines that can help everyone to formulate their ritucharya. In case you have any confusion, feel free to contact me anytime.
According to the Solar calendar, this year rainy season starts with Mithun Sankranti – 15th June 2019.
Ideally, the complete practice of Varsha ritucharya should start with Mithun Sankranti. Gradual changes can be induced one week before Mithun Sankranti.
Dos and don’t of Varsha Ritu
Sattu dissolved in water
It is important to note that sattu can be used in many ways. However, Charak prohibits the use of Sattu dissolved in water particularly. Sattu made in the form of paratha, mixed with spices like garlic, is warming in nature. It does not cause excess cooling effect during the rainy season in the body.
Sleeping during the daytime siesta
If you sleep during the daytime in the rainy season, it might lead to an excess of kapha Dosha in the body. Since the body metabolism and digestion is retarded during the rainy season, excess kapha dosa can further slow it down and cause multiple disorders and aggravate existing diseases.
Exposure to morning dew
Many people practice walking on the morning dew early in the morning. This practice is beneficial in the summer season but can be highly harmful in the rainy season. It can trigger cough, cold, and other kapha related disorders in the body.
Many people practice sleeping outdoor during the summer season. However, sleeping under the open Sky even when there is no possibility of rain is an unhealthy habit during the rainy season. This practice leads to the high exposure of morning dew.
Besides, it is believed that sleeping under cloudy Sky can severely vitiate the vata dosha and lead to paralytic attacks. This belief is not scientifically proven. However, there are many instances of such paralytic attacks.
All these practices are opposite to health practices recommended in the summer. The transition from summer to the rainy season is the most significant transition of the year as the weather fluctuates drastically from dry and hot to wet and cold.
Swimming in rivers Swimming in rivers is strictly prohibited during the rainy season. This recommendation Works great as a health practice as well as a safety measure as the rivers might get flooded during the rainy season. As the rainwater joins the river, lots of impurities from the land can get dissolved in river water and can cause diseases; especially the skin disorders or digestive problems in case this contaminated water is swallowed during a swim.
Sunbath is also not recommended during this season. Sunrays passing through the clouds are not considered safe in Ayurveda. Scientific evidence for this practice
This study shows that the organs can independently react to exposure of light without interference or guidance by the central nervous system.
I have a hypothesis that Sunbath diverts body’s preparation for the rainy season when there will be no or minimum Sun exposure. Exposure to Sun activates the sweating mechanism, which is not very useful during the rainy season.
Minimum sexual activity
Excessive sexual activity is also prohibited during the rainy season. In the rainy season, overall body strength is below average. Sexual activity requires A lot of energy and produces an immediate feeling of exhaustion in the body. Therefore it is not supportable in the rainy season. Sexual activity during the rainy season risks severe vitiation of vata Dosha in the body. Zero sexual intercourse is an excellent option during the rainy season, especially for middle-aged and older people.
Use of Honey
The must-use substance in the rainy season is honey.
Honey is one of the elixirs of Ayurveda. Charak Samhita recommends the use of honey every day for good health.
Use of honey is especially recommended in the rainy season according to Charak Samhita
According to Charaka, honey causes vata vitiation. Cyclic water vitiation in the rainy season is a natural apart of natural annual biorhythm of the body.
However, Charak highly recommends the use of honey during the rainy season.
Honey is a natural kapha balancing substance. When kapha dosha blocks the natural Pathways of vata dosha, we experience pain in the body. Lack of Sunlight during the rainy season can aggravate kapha dosha. There is a possibility that the use of honey helps to dissolve the excess mucus and clear the vata channels in the body. This kapha elimination helps to alleviate several disorders like body pain, pain joint pain, headache, depression during the rainy season.
However, honey should be used in a limited quantity. Two to three teaspoon is the right amount for everyday use. Excess use of honey can cause severe indigestion.
Time for pakora
Sometimes people feel body pain, joint pain, headache, etc. during the cold weather caused by excess rain. During this time you should use sour, salty and slightly oily food, for example, poha, upma, fermented food like Idli Dosa, paratha, fried savories like pakoda, mangoda, chilla et cetera.
Sour, salty, and oily food helps to balance the vata dosha. Sweet food is a little heavy to digest as compared to sour and salty food. Sour and salty food is naturally digestive in nature. Oily food helps to prevent the dryness caused by vata dosha.
However, it is crucial to consider the digestive capacity of the individual. Young people with healthy digestion can have fried food items like Pakoda, samosa, aloo Vada extra whereas older adults with weak digestion can have shallow fried food like paratha,cheela or slightly oily food like dosa et cetera.
Aged grains It is highly recommended to use aged grains of jowar, wheat, and rice, to protect the digestive fire during the rainy season. These aged grains are very easy to digest.
Non-vegetarian soups Acharya Charak recommends Non-vegetarian soups prepared from the meat of jangalya animals and birds (creatures found in the plains with moderate climate). These soups help to prevent vata vitiation in the body due to their heavy and oily nature.
No greens Use of green leafy vegetables is not recommended during the rainy season. All the green vegetables like spinach, methi, lal saag, etc. cause vata vitiation in the body. All the non-seasonal fruits and vegetables should never be used during the rainy season.
Mangoes in varsha ritu
However, according to a common folk belief, you should not consume mango after Devshayani Ekadashi.
Devshayani Ekadashi falls typically in June.
According to the traditional belief, mangoes that ripen after Devshayani Ekadashi are particularly acidic and harsh in nature. These mangoes can vitiate pitta and vata dosha in the body. They can also aggravate all kinds of digestive and skin problems.
According to my personal experience, the mangoes that come after Devshayani Ekadashi are peculiarly sour. There is no scientific evidence for this belief. Therefore we should experiment on a personal level.
Beverages for varsha ritu Use of mahua based alcohol(for vata and kapha Prakriti people) and plain water (for pitta Prakriti people) mixed with honey, helps to accelerate the digestive process during the rainy season.
All kinds of alcohol stimulate the digestive system and produce more heat in the body — this excess heat help to compensate for the lack of Sunlight during the rainy season.
Charak recommends the use of boiled underground water during the rainy season.
Stay dry with herbal skincare You must avoid exposure to moisture in the rainy season as it can Trigger multiple skin disorders like fungal infection etc.
The rainy season has a very high level of humidity in the air which is ideal for incubation of pathogens, especially fungus. Charak Recommends that you should rub your body with a thick towel and apply medicated powders on your skin as prevention against pathogenic infestation highly prevalent during the rainy season. This health practice is especially applicable for people with excessively dry and malnourished skin.
In case of non-availability of Ayurvedic medicated powder, you can use powdered turmeric, sandalwood, aguru, etc.
You can you use medicated Herbs for Ubtan and bath as well.
The sequence of a sutra is important as it indicates the priority or importance of the recommended health practices. All the above health practices are in appropriate sequence as mentioned in Charak Samhita (Sutra Sthana-6/35) except the point mentioning green vegetables.
Hope this information helps all! Please feel free to comment or contact me for any doubts/queries.