Navratri Fast Rules

Navratri, a nine-day Hindu festival, is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga and her nine forms.

During this auspicious period, many devotees observe a fast, known as 'Vrat' in Sanskrit, adhering to specific dietary and ritualistic guidelines to seek blessings and purify their mind, body, and soul.

This article explores the rules and traditions associated with Navratri fasting, offering insights into the various practices and the significance behind them.

Key Takeaways

  • Navratri fasting, or 'Vrat', is a spiritual practice observed to honor Goddess Durga, involving strict dietary restrictions and ritualistic worship over nine days.
  • Devotees follow a Sattvic diet, excluding grains, onion, garlic, and common salt, to maintain the sanctity of the fast and promote physical and mental purity.
  • The fast is traditionally broken on Navami Tithi after worshiping nine young girls, symbolizing the nine forms of Goddess Durga, and offering them a meal of Kheer, puri, and gram.
  • Performing the Kanya Puja and Havan rituals before breaking the fast with Prasad is believed to ensure the fast's completeness and fulfillment of the devotee's wishes.
  • Each day of Navratri is associated with the worship of a different form of Goddess Durga, and the fast-breaking rules may vary depending on the family deity and regional traditions.

Understanding Navratri Fasting Traditions

Significance of Fasting During Navratri

Fasting during Navratri is a profound spiritual practice that goes beyond mere abstinence from food; it is a period of introspection and purification.

Devotees engage in fasting to honor the divine feminine energy embodied by Goddess Durga, seeking her blessings for spiritual growth and the triumph of good over evil. The fast is observed with a sense of sanctity and involves embracing simplicity and self-discipline.

  • Fasting is a symbolic act of renunciation and devotion.
  • It is a time for personal austerity and spiritual cleansing.
  • Observers refrain from consuming non-vegetarian food and practice a Sattvic diet.
During this sacred time, the focus is not just on the physical aspect of fasting but also on cultivating positive qualities and thoughts. The essence of Navratri fasting lies in the dedication to Goddess Durga and the conscious effort to imbue one's life with her divine attributes.

Different Forms of Goddess Durga Worshiped

Navratri celebrates the divine feminine through the worship of Goddess Durga in her nine distinct forms. Each day of the festival is dedicated to a different aspect of the goddess, embodying her various attributes and powers.

The sequence of worship begins with Maa Shailputri, known for her embodiment of the power of nature, and concludes with Maa Siddhidatri, revered for granting spiritual powers and siddhis to her devotees.

The following list outlines the nine forms of Goddess Durga worshiped during Navratri:

  • Maa Shailputri
  • Maa Brahmacharini
  • Maa Chandraghanta
  • Maa Kushmanda
  • Maa Skandamata
  • Maa Katyayani
  • Maa Kaalratri
  • Maa Mahagauri
  • Maa Siddhidatri
Devotion to each form of Goddess Durga is expressed through specific rituals and offerings, with each day bringing a unique opportunity for spiritual growth and blessings.

Variations in Fasting Practices

Navratri fasting practices vary widely among devotees, reflecting the diversity of traditions and personal beliefs.

Fasting during Navratri is not just about abstaining from food; it's a spiritual discipline. It involves purity of the mind and body, and often includes a diet that is free from non-vegetarian food, alcohol, onion, garlic, and certain grains and spices.

During this period, special ingredients like kuttu (buckwheat), samak ke chawal (barnyard millet), and singhara atta (water chestnut flour) become prominent. These ingredients are used to prepare dishes that adhere to the fasting guidelines while still providing nourishment.

The essence of Navratri Puja and fasting is to invoke blessings of prosperity and happiness, and to celebrate cultural unity and generosity.

Here is a list of common ingredients and their significance during the fast:

  • Kuttu (Buckwheat): Often used as a wheat alternative, symbolizing purity.
  • Samak ke Chawal (Barnyard Millet): A grain substitute that is light and easy to digest.
  • Singhara Atta (Water Chestnut Flour): Represents sustenance and is used for making various fasting dishes.

Each region and community may have its own set of rules and customs, which can range from partial fasting to a complete fast abstaining from all food and water.

The intent behind these practices is to cleanse the mind, body, and soul, and to show devotion.

Guidelines for Observing the Navratri Fast

Foods to Include and Avoid

During Navratri fasting, adherents must be mindful of their diet, focusing on foods that align with the spiritual objectives of the fast.

Foods to include are those that are light and easy to digest, such as fruits, nuts, and dairy products. These items provide the necessary energy without burdening the digestive system.

Foods to avoid are typically those that are heavy, processed, or not considered Sattvic. Grains, non-vegetarian items, and alcoholic beverages are generally excluded from the diet during this period.

The emphasis is on maintaining a pure and simple diet that supports the body's detoxification and spiritual rejuvenation.

  • Include: Fruits, Nuts, Dairy
  • Avoid: Grains, Meat, Alcohol
The Navratri fast is not just about abstaining from certain foods but also about purifying the body and soul. It is a time to connect with the divine and foster a sense of inner peace.

The Role of Sattvic Diet

During Navratri, adherents embrace a Sattvic diet to align with the spiritual purity and discipline the festival demands.

This diet is characterized by foods that are fresh, juicy, light, and nourishing, promoting a calm and clear mind conducive to meditation and worship.

The Sattvic diet includes ingredients like kuttu (buckwheat), samak ke chawal (barnyard millet), and singhara atta (water chestnut flour), which are not only permissible during the fast but also provide essential nutrients.

For instance, singhara atta is a good source of energy-boosting nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, and phosphorous, ensuring that energy levels are maintained despite the restricted diet.

By consuming Sattvic foods, devotees ensure that their body remains pure and in harmony with the spiritual practices of Navratri. The diet helps in keeping the mind focused and the body energized, allowing for a more meaningful fasting experience.

Special Considerations for Ashtami and Navami

The conclusion of the Navratri fast is deeply rooted in tradition and varies according to the day of worship. For those who revere their family deity on Ashtami, the fast may end as per their familial customs. On the other hand, the general practice is to conclude the fast after the Navami Tithi, aligning with the worship of Goddess Rani and the offering of Prasad.

During Navratri, the fast is not solely about food abstinence but also embodies simplicity and austerity. The observance of a pure and vegetarian diet is paramount, especially on the auspicious days of Ashtami and Navami.

Sheetala Ashtami, a festival within this period, emphasizes the importance of fasting for both spiritual and health benefits.

It is a time to worship Goddess Sheetala and to adhere to specific dietary restrictions. It is prudent to seek guidance before undertaking the fast to ensure it aligns with one's health and spiritual objectives.

Rituals for Concluding the Navratri Fast

Navami Tithi and its Importance

Navami Tithi, the ninth day of Chaitra Navratri, is not only significant for its association with the celebration of Lord Rama's birth but also marks the culmination of the fasting period. Devotees rise early, perform puja, and observe a fast with deep reverence on this day, embodying the virtues of purity and devotion.

On Navami, the fast is traditionally concluded after the Navami Tithi ends. However, those who honor their family deity on Ashtami may choose to end their fast according to their familial customs.

The practice of fasting on Ram Navami is believed to purify the mind, body, and soul, and is a profound expression of devotion to Lord Ram. The fast is typically observed throughout the day until midnight, with devotees breaking it by partaking in sweets and fruits.

Kanya Puja: Honoring the Divine Feminine

Kanya Puja, also known as 'Kanjak Bhoj', is a poignant ritual performed on the ninth day of Navratri, symbolizing the veneration of the divine feminine.

Young girls, representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga, are invited into homes as embodiments of the goddess herself. They are revered, gifted, and offered a ceremonial feast, which is believed to bring the goddess's blessings into the devotee's home.

The ceremonial meal, or 'prasad', typically includes a vegetarian spread with items such as puri, halwa, and kheer. This tradition underscores the importance of nurturing and uplifting young girls, aligning with the goddess's attributes of life, nourishment, and prosperity.

The following is a list of delicacies commonly prepared for Kanya Puja:

  • Puri
  • Halwa
  • Kheer
  • Kala chana

By engaging in this ritual, devotees express their devotion and seek auspiciousness, while also promoting the wellbeing of daughters, a gesture that is deeply appreciated by the Divine Mother.

Havan and Immersion Rituals

The culmination of Navratri's spiritual journey is marked by the Havan and immersion rituals, which are performed with great devotion.

The Havan, a sacred fire ceremony, is conducted to invoke the Goddess's blessings and purify the atmosphere. Devotees offer various items such as ghee, grains, and seeds to the fire while chanting mantras.

This act symbolizes the burning of impurities and ego, allowing one's innate divinity to shine forth.

Following the Havan, the immersion of barley seeds, which were sown at the beginning of Navratri, takes place.

This ritual signifies the end of the fast and the cycle of creation and dissolution. The seeds, now sprouted, are immersed in a river or other body of water, representing the return of life to its source and the continuous flow of divine grace.

The Navratri Puja involves offering flowers, fruits, sweets, ghee, and essential items like Kalash and coconut to the Goddess. Each item symbolizes devotion and blessings in the festival.

It is essential to perform these rituals with a pure heart and focused intent, as they are integral to the observance of Navratri and the honoring of the divine feminine energy.

Breaking the Fast: Navratri Parana

Auspicious Time and Method

The auspicious time for breaking the Navratri fast, known as Navratri Parana, is determined by the specific lunar calendar day when Navratri concludes. It is crucial to perform the Parana within a certain time frame on the day following the ninth day, Dashami.

  • The Parana should not be done during Hari Vasara, which is the first one-fourth duration of Dashami Tithi. The best time is after Hari Vasara ends and before Dashami Tithi concludes.
The precise timing of the Parana is essential to receive the full spiritual benefits and blessings of the fast.

To ensure the correct performance of Navratri Parana, adherents may consult a lunar calendar or seek guidance from a priest to identify the most auspicious period for concluding their fast.

Prasad: The Sacred Offering

Prasad is a divine offering made during Navratri, symbolizing the sanctity and grace of the Goddess. After the completion of puja rituals, the prasad is distributed among the devotees as a form of blessings. The act of sharing prasad is an expression of collective devotion and gratitude.

During Navratri, various prasad recipes hold significance, each embodying the spirit of the festival. Here are a few prasad items commonly prepared:

  • Kala Chana Masala
  • Puri
  • Halwa
  • Kheer
The distribution of prasad is not merely a ritualistic conclusion but a meaningful exchange that reinforces the communal aspect of worship and the cycle of giving and receiving blessings.

The prasad is also a reminder of the divine virtues one should embody, such as purity, devotion, and selflessness. By partaking in prasad, devotees internalize these qualities, aiming to carry them forward in their daily lives.

Blessings and Benefits of Proper Parana

Completing the Navratri fast with proper Parana is believed to bring divine blessings and benefits to the devotee's life. The act of Parana symbolizes gratitude and reverence towards the Goddess, ensuring that the spiritual gains of the fast are sealed.

  • Observing Parana at the right time and in the prescribed manner is said to bestow peace and prosperity.
  • It is a gesture that honors the sanctity of the fast and is thought to please the Divine Mother.
  • The practice is also associated with the wellbeing of one's family, especially daughters, linking the ritual to auspiciousness in the home.
By adhering to the traditional methods of breaking the fast, such as consuming satvik food and performing the necessary rituals, the fast is considered to be fruitful and complete.


As we conclude our guide on the Navratri fast rules, it's clear that the practice is steeped in devotion and tradition.

Observing the fast during Chaitra Navratri is a sacred ritual that honors Goddess Durga and culminates on the auspicious day of Ram Navami.

Whether you break the fast on Ashtami or Navami, following the prescribed rituals, including the worship of the family deity, Kanya Puja, and consuming sattvic food, is essential for the fast to be considered complete and fruitful.

By adhering to these time-honored rules, devotees can ensure they receive the full spiritual benefits and blessings of the puja.

Remember to conclude your fast with gratitude and by offering Prasad to the Goddess, as this act of devotion is believed to fulfill desires and bring imperishable fruits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of fasting during Navratri?

Fasting during Navratri is a devotional practice aimed at cleansing the mind, body, and soul, and showing devotion to Goddess Durga and Lord Ram.

What are the different forms of Goddess Durga worshiped during Navratri?

During Navratri, devotees worship nine different forms of Maa Durga, each representing a distinct aspect of the divine feminine.

Are there specific foods to include or avoid during the Navratri fast?

Yes, during the Navratri fast, devotees should eat only Sattvic food and avoid grains, salt, onion, garlic, and non-vegetarian items.

What is the importance of Navami Tithi in concluding the Navratri fast?

Navami Tithi is significant as it marks the end of the Navratri fast, and many devotees break their fast on this day after performing Kanya Puja and Havan rituals.

How should the Navratri fast be broken?

The Navratri fast should be broken by first performing the Havan and Kanya Puja, and then consuming the Prasad offered to the Goddess.

What are the blessings and benefits of properly concluding the Navratri fast?

By properly concluding the Navratri fast following all the rituals, a devotee receives the blessings of Goddess Durga and attains imperishable fruits.

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