Sivaratri is celebrated by observing a fast for the entire day and ends with a Shiva pooja through the night. Hinduism and other religions that originated in the Indian sub-continent have a special emphasis on controlling the five senses, the sense of smell, sight, sound, taste and touch. The rituals of puja encompasses all the five senses. The beautiful deity, the flowers, the sweet smelling agarbatti, the prasad, the conch or bells, the aarti and the blessings; all together lets the devotee experience the supreme being through the five senses.
Why do we fast? Apart from the religious connotations for observing a fast, it is also a way of practicing to control our urges by controlling hunger. The most arduous form of fast involves giving up all food and water for a period of time. While this may not be possible for all, certain foods from each food group can be eaten during the fasts.
Grains are prohibited during fasts, hence other grain substitutes are allowed during this time. The grain substitutes include Bhagar or Samo seeds, Rajgira and Sabudana. Bhagar or Samo seeds are seeds of a grass that grows as weed alongside paddy or rice crop. Instead of de-weeding, these highly nutritious seeds are harvested and can be eaten during fasts. Similarly Rajgira is also a grass seed and is allowed during fasts. Peanuts are the source of protein during the fasting period. Bhagar with peanut curry is very popular in Maharashtra during fasts.
Sabudana, also known as tapioca pearls, is made from the starch of tapioca. It is pure carbohydrate and provides the much needed boost of energy during fasts. As it does not contain any other nutrition, Sabudana is always cooked with other ingredients like milk to make payasam or with peanuts to make khichadi.
All fruits are allowed and the most popular amongst them are the bananas and apples. Coconut is also allowed
All dairy product that does not contain any of the restricted items can be consumed. Milk, curd or yogurt, ghee and khoya is allowed. This means any desserts made out of ghee, khoya and sugar can be eaten. Paneer on the other hand is often not allowed because it is obtained by adding vinegar or lemon to milk.
Tubers like singhada, potato and sweet potato along with jaggery can be eaten. Most vegetables are not allowed and green chillies are the only exception. Curry leaves (kadhipatta) and coriander leaves(dhaniya or cilantro) are also not allowed for fasts.
Here are a few recipes you can try during the fast.