How often do we come across customs and traditions that seem silly, or useless, or even counterproductive to us? Well, I, for one, certainly feel that way about a lot of Indian customs. But I'm not going to talk about those here. I'm going to talk about some that do make sense to me. Food and fasting.
We have this concept to Navratri where we eat only specific kinds of foods for nine days. It's supposed to prepare our bodies for eating differently with the onset of the changing season. Think about it. We all eat differently in the summer, in comparison to the winter. We could all use a few days of detoxification in the spring and in the, well, autumn. (Digression: It's not really autumn if the trees don't shed their leaves, is it? But let's just use the term to refer to the transition from summer to winter.)
One of my colleagues in India used to religiously observe a fast every Thursday when she would only eat fruit and vegetables from sunrise to sunset. Well, I am not sure of the technicalities, but you get the idea. Me, I always knew about the health benefits of this kind of thing, (If done right, not if used as an excuse to eat mounds of halwa and puris before sunrise and after sunset.) but I never really tried it myself. Sure, I always ate a light lunch, but I tried to include at least a little bit of protein - legumes - and a little bit of grain - rice or wheat - in my lunch. And I would allow myself to eat dessert whenever they made fruit custard in the cafeteria. It worked for me most of the time.
A few months ago, I had a couple of days of digestive distress and I got around it by eating only strawberries and carrots for lunch for two days. It works better than any medicine. It also tastes much better.
Ever since, I got into this habit of observing a detoxification day approximately once a week. Some weeks, I don't do it. Those are the weeks that I didn't go out to eat and didn't eat anything particularly fattening at home either. Some weeks, I do it twice a week. I don't have a fixed day of the week, but I do often end up doing it on Thursdays. Just like I would so often end up showing up at work in a yellow outfit on Thursdays (Apparently, that's what you're supposed to wear when you are observing the aforementioned Thursday fast.) when I was in India. Sometimes it's Tuesday. Sometimes Friday. It doesn't matter, because I don't do it to please a supernatural being. I do it to keep my digestive tract from turning into an overpowering being. It works really well for me. My rule for those days is, no processed food from 8 AM to 8 PM. That means no bread, chapatis, oil, or milk. No cookies or cake or ice-cream. Milk is pasteurised, so it is a processed food. Plain rice with vegetables without oil is allowed, but generally not eaten. I don't fret if I happen to break the rule. Because even if I did it for the last four hours, or will do it for the next four hours, some good is going to come out of it.
I like the way I follow the ancient wisdom without the rigid rules. Because that's the only way that it's a good thing for me.