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Health Corner: Varsha Ritucharya (Regimen For Monsoon Season)

Pratibha Shah
07/09/2009

Let me take a break from the kitchen herbs series and share with you the regimen that should be followed in the monsoon season.
According to Hindu calendar, Varsha Ritu comprises of ‘Shravan’ and ‘Bhaadrapad’ months, which in the Gregorian calendar range from July 22nd to September 22nd. Presently, the characteristics of Varsha Ritu are prominently visible. So this is the right time to know the dos and don’ts of this season.

According to Ayurved, Varsha Ritu is the first Ritu of ‘Visarg Kaal’ or ‘Dakshinayan’, which means the Southern cycle of the Sun. In this period, because heat is going away, gentle cold breeze has started and moon is predominant, ‘bal’ or strength starts to increase moderately, as compared to the previous ‘Ritu’. Typically in this season, ‘jatharagni’ or digestive fire is low and ‘vayu’ dosha is primarily vitiated, along with secondary vitiation of ‘pitta’ and ‘kapha’. It has also been mentioned that in this season water becomes contaminated and therefore all precaution must be taken in the use of drinking water. It is amazing that they knew this in that period of time.

Let me now enlist the dos and don’ts of this season, as advised by our Ayurvedacharyas:

Dos:
-    Use caution and drink water only from safe sources. Intake of water should be minimum to moderate.  
-    Consume food that is predominant in ‘madhur’ (sweet) and ‘amla’ (sour) rasas.
-    Food should frequently be processed with herbs that increase digestive power, like ‘pippali’ (Piper longum), ‘sunthi’ (dried ginger powder), etc.
-    Using moderate amounts of Ghee is favorable in this season.
-    Old barley, old wheat and old rice should be used. What is meant here is that when these grains are stored for a longer time under properly maintained storages, they tend to grow sweeter and juicier and lighter in digestion, and therefore ideal for usage in this season.
-    Lean meat and soup made up of lean meat is recommended, and processing with the above-mentioned herbs is encouraged.
-    Moderate use of honey is also highly recommended.
-    Use of grape wine and other local mildly alcoholic and sweet alcoholic beverages is beneficial in this season.
-    Carefully collected rainwater and/or boiled and cooled water can be used for drinking.
-    Oil and paste massage, daily bath, applying of sandalwood powder or paste and wearing of garlands is advised in this season. Besides the usual benefits, I believe another hidden benefit is that the above activities help in alleviating the dull and grey mood that prevails in this season.
-    For traveling, high-seated means of transport should be used. In earlier times, this meant using an elephant or camel for travel. The idea is to be safe in case of flash flooding.
-    Frequently fumigate the house and clothes. Once again a very sensible practice, keeping in mind that various types of fungi proliferate in this season.
-    ‘Panchkarma’ procedures to be done in this season (under expert supervision): ‘Vaman’, ‘Virechan’ and ‘niruhan basti’.

Don’ts:
-    Do not step out without some sort of protection against rain, presently an umbrella or a raincoat.
-    Always wear protective and appropriate footwear, as prolonged exposure to contaminated water can cause local infections.
-    Excessive physical endeavors are discouraged in this season.
-    Daytime sleeping is strongly contraindicated.
-    Water from open sources like rivers or ponds should not be consumed.

Stay dry and see you in a while!!



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