The Hindu festival of Navratri is a nine night long celebration of dance and frivolity. Here are some expert tips to make sure that you can stay fit and healthy during the festival and can enjoy the celebrations to the fullest.
Navratri is a Hindu festival where people dance and celebrate for nine nights straight in celebration of the triumph of good over evil. It is a ten day long celebration that will blow your senses and leave you ecstatically exhausted. But how do you take care of yourself over this long, extended festival and how do you survive Navratri?
Expert Tips for a successful Navratri.
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
Looking after your health is paramount on any trip, but at festivals such as this where there are larger than normal gatherings of people in close proximity there are raised risks of numerous airborne diseases, particularly respiratory diseases, the flu and viruses such as measles and MMR. As well as the routine travel vaccines consider getting your annual flu jab too.
Be careful if you decide to fast during Navratri.
Many devotees decide to fast during Navratri as a means to purify mind, body and soul. Now this isn’t fasting in the traditional sense as most people would understand it and it isn’t about denying yourself food, as certain foods are allowed. Fasting in Navratri is all about purifying yourself, so certain foods such as fruits and vegetables, pulses and legumes, recipes using buckwheat flour which is high in fibre and many more are allowed. If you decide to join in with this tradition then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and on the whole it is a pretty healthy diet, just make sure you do it safely and healthily. Even though it is a relatively healthy diet there may be less carbohydrates and protein than your body is used to so make sure you still get all the nutrients your body needs, take extra precautions if you have any pre existing medical conditions such as diabetes (and in fact consult with a professional before you do) and if you feel ill at any point, just stop. Health comes first.
Dehydration is a really common problem during Navratri, especially given Gujurat’s already hot and humid weather and the large crowds of people. Make sure that you drink enough fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. It is a good idea to carry a refillable water filter bottle with you at all times, that way you don’t have to keep using single use plastic bottles and can refill at any source without worrying about water borne bugs and diseases.
Be careful with the food.
Many people will be fasting during Navratri and focusing on Navratri specific foods but that doesn’t mean other food isn’t available. One of the best things visiting Gujurat are the local delicacies and if you do want to indulge in the amazing food it is really important to be a little bit careful about what you eat. Most street food is absolutely safe with a few basic precautions such as making sure it is piping hot, not eating meat if it looks like it has been hanging too long or fruit and vegetables if it has been washed or prepared in local tap water (which may be fine for locals, but not always for you). Contaminated food and water are major sources of a lot of diseases including diarrhoea, typhoid, hep A, food poisoning and a lot more, so enjoy the food and eat until your hearts content but just exercise a little caution too.
Wash your hands.
I’m a nurse, and have had hand washing drilled into me from the start of my training as an essential part of infection control, so trust me! Washing your hands really is one of the single best ways to drastically reduce any risk of gastrointestinal and other diseases.
A large cause of diarrhoea and gastro upset is caused by bacteria that is spread via the fecal/oral route (and yes that really is as disgusting as it sounds!) Hand hygiene is essential to stop the spread of infection and can dramatically reduce your chances of diarroeah, vomiting, food poisoning, gastroenteritis, flu, norovirus, MRSA or even Hepatitis A.
Just wash your hands! It is also a really good idea to carry a small bottle of alcohol gel with you too (I know this is the nurse coming out in me again). Alcohol gel is in no way a substitute for washing your hands but can be useful for those times where you can’t wash them properly.
I can guarantee that a good portion of those who suffer from loose bowels or a gastro upset on their travels and blame the street food didn’t wash their hands first, and that is probably the reason they got sick.
Watch and wash your cutlery yourself.
Just like contaminated food, your utensils can be a common source of bacteria if they are not cleaned properly. I love street stalls and food courts in Asia that give you disposable wooden chopsticks in paper packets you know are trustworthy, or cheap eats in South America that often need no utensils at all. If you don’t have this option however then there is no shame in carrying a small pack of antiseptic wipes to give the cutlery a wipedown or even carry your own spork or chopsticks too! This is a little bit of overkill I admit, but just check the cutlery before you start eating, a quick wipedown won’t do any harm and may save your stomach a bit of distress!
Get enough sleep.
Sleep is important, that much should be obvious to everyone, and given that Navratri is one huge 9 night long party it is really important to make sure that you get enough sleep before, during and after all that late night revelry. My personal advice is if you are planning to attend the celebrations then plan your trip to make sure you arrive in Gujurat a good few days at least before they start so that you can rest up and be ready, and leave at least a few days afterwards to rest and recover! You will need it!
Preparation is the key to staying fit and healthy wherever you travel, and as long as you follow this advice, take sensible precautions and look after your health, there is no reason at all why you can’t have the time of your life at one of India’s biggest festivals and spend nine whole nights dancing, singing, feasting and celebrating!
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This is a paid article written in partnership with Gujurat Tourism with products or services supplied by them. Full editorial integrity is maintained at all times. The views and opinions expressed are entirely the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.