What is Devshayani Ekadashi?
Once in a while Ekadashi dates confuse all the Hindus. One such Ekadashi is the Devshayani Ekadashi which was on 8th and 9th July this year. Some observed the fasting on 8th and some on the 9th. Shayani literally means sleeping. Its believed that on this Maha Ekadashi ( great eleventh), Devpodhi or Devshayani Ekadashi Lord Vishnu falls asleep on the Sheshnag (cosmic serpent) in the cosmic ocean of milk. Its believed that Lord Vishnu sleeps during the four holy months of Chaturmas. This holy period coincides with the rainy season. It also signifies the beginning of penance, rituals, poojas, parikramas and making a conscious effort to advance oneself in the religion aspect. That does not mean that during the rest of the year, one does not practice all this. Its just that more attention is given towards religious progress. To read more about this Ekadashi go to this site.
Advantages of Fasting
Fasting has recently become a fad in the health and weight loss world, but fasting actually existed centuries ago and is a part of many religions and cultures. One such tradition is followed by many Hindus world over and that is fasting every fortnight, also known as Ekadashi.
- Promotes control of sugar in the blood as it decrease insulin resistance
- Promotes better health and decreases levels of inflammation
- Reduces bad cholesterol therefore promotes good heart health
- Aids weight loss
- Boosts metabolism
- Helps to purify the mind and body
- Fasting on particular religious days or months helps one to follow and practice the religious rituals
- develops discipline
Fasting and Me
Fasting is a way to discipline the body and mind. It will take me a while to discipline both. I usually start off the Ekadashi morning with a promise to myself that I will not indulge in all the goodies, but the foodie in me gets the better hold on my mind. By the time the day ends I probably have feasted more than usual. Well till I do a fast without much indulgence, I will strive to try and try till I succeed. In that respect my hubby dear is a much more disciplined person than I am. Discipline has to be constantly worked on and nothing should come in the way – excuses, weaknesses or the heart. However, Hinduism doesn’t require that one fasts till your suffer. There are many options when fasting, drink only water, eat only fruits, consume only one meal, do not certain groups of food, etc. Though, I feel hungry when I follow the Ekadashi fasting, I still do them and look forward to the next one.
Good Food and Fasting
I once asked my sister in law who is an ISKCON devotee, why do we cook so many varieties of delicious and tempting dishes when one is suppose to fast? Her answer was that we are not cooking it for us but its an offering to God, so we have to feed Him just the way we would feed a guest, with lots of variety. The Prasadam is then shared with all and not indulge in it on your own. With that in mind made rajgira halwa or shiro, also known as rajagaro no shiro.
What is Rajgira?
Rajgira is the Hindi word for amaranth. Amaranth seeds can be used to prepare kheer or pudding and the flour is used in a variety of dishes, especially ones made during the fasting days. Amaranth is a gluten free, protein rich seed. The seeds are ground into flour and used in bread, cookies, cereals, pasta etc. The seeds can be popped and eaten. I’ve made some Fig and Amaranth Cookies and not only are they totally gluten free but taste awesome. Amaranth Flatbreads with a bit of wheat flour make an unusual starter dish when served with a salsa. Serve Amaranth Kheer or Pudding with some fruit as a healthy breakfast or dessert. Did you know that amaranth leaves are healthy? How about making a healthy Callaloo Fried Rice?
- Satvik friendly
- Gluten free
- For a vegan option replace dairy milk with almond or coconut milk and replace ghee with vegan butter or coconut oil.
½ cup rajgira (rajagro or amaranth) flour
1½ cup milk
⅓ cup sugar
½ tsp aniseeds (valiyari)
¼ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp almond and pistachio slices
4 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) – 3 tbsp liquid part and 1 tbsp solid
- Put milk and sugar in a pan and heat the milk. Stir it occasionally till the sugar melts. Bring it to a boil.
- Heat the ghee in a pan over low heat.
- Add the flour and aniseeds. Stir constantly till it turns light brown in colour. This will take about 5 to 6 minutes. Initially, the flour may appear dry but as it gets cooked, it will become runny.
- Add the milk while stirring the flour.
- Keep on stirring till the sheera becomes thick. It is done when the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a big lump.
- Add the cardamom and ginger powders and mix well.
- Garnish with the nut slices or slivers and serve hot.
- Be careful when you add the hot milk to the flour mixture. Lot of steam will be released. Its best to pour the milk at the edge of the pan instead of the middle.
- I added ginger powder and aniseed to give this sheera a different taste. You can add only cardamom of you wish.
- Roast the flour over low heat.
- Don’t get tempted to add more ghee if the flour appears dry. Once it cooks, the flour mixture will become runny.
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