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Ritucharya

The word Ritucharya derives from “Ritu” meaning “Seasons” and “Charya” meaning “follow routine”. Ritucharya holds great significance in Ayurveda. According to this principle, the year is divided into two distinct kaals or periods based on the position of the Sun. These two kaals are:
Aadaan Kaal
This is also called Uttarayan or Northern Solstice. The word is derived from “Adaan” meaning “taking away”. During aadan kaal, the sun starts traveling in northward direction.
Aadaan kaal includes 3 seasons - Late Winter, Spring and Summer. The sun and wind become increasingly powerful during this period. The Sun takes away the strength of the people and the cooling qualities of the earth. The Sun gives hot & dry qualities to living being & plants. Increasing heat reduces strength of individuals. During this period, plants show predominance of bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.
Visarga Kaal
This is also called Dakshinayaan or Southern Solstice. This word is derived from “Visarga” meaning “giving”.
In Visarga kaal, people typically gain strength.
Visarga kaal includes 3 seasons - Rainy season, Autumn and Winter. 

  1. Shishir (winter season) 2.     Basant (spring) 3.     Gresham(summers) 4.     Varsha (rainy) 5.     Sharad (autumn) 6.     Hemant (early winters

 

Diet/lifestyle in different seasons

 

Shishira (winter)

General condition

Mid-January to mid-March (approximately) is considered as Shishira Ritu (winter). During this season, the environment remains cold, along with cold wind. The predominant Rasa and Mahabhuta during this season are Tikta (bitter) andAkasha, respectively. The strength of the person becomes less, deposition of the Kapha Dosha occurs and Agni (catabolism) remains in a higher state.

Diet regimen

Foods having Amla (sour) as the predominant taste are preferred. Cereals and pulses, wheat/gram flour products, new rice, corn, and others, are advised. Ginger, garlic, Haritaki (fruits of Terminalia chebula), Pippali (fruits of Piper longum), sugarcane products, and milk and milk products are to be included in the diet.

Foods having Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent) predominant Rasa are to be avoided. Laghu (light) and Shita (cold) foods are advised to be prohibited.

Lifestyle

Massage with oil/powder/paste, bathing with lukewarm water, exposure to sunlight, wearing warm clothes are mentioned to follow.

Vata aggravating lifestyle like exposure to cold wind, excessive walking, sleep at late night, are to be avoided.

 

Vasant (Spring) -: 
Period - Mid March to mid May
Spring season comes in the period of Northern Solstice. During this period Sun rays become stronger as compare to winter. Winds become increasingly sharp. Nice green grass starts coming out of soil, tree are full of beautiful flowers with nice scent. Birds are singing as winter is gone and weather is warm again. 

This nice warm weather show its effects on the body. Increased heat in the atmosphere starts melting the accumulated kapha in the body. Drying effect increasing along with heat. Because of all these changes a person experiences signs and symptoms of kapha aggravation. 



The common signs & symptoms are:
Cough, Cold, sneezing
Rhinitis, bronchitis, Sinusitis 
Indigestion, Feeling of heaviness,
Nausea, excess salivation
On the other hand a person with balanced doshas enjoys this weather. He feels fresh ready to enjoy the season. His mind becomes active and starts enjoying blossoms and cool breezes. He gains the energy, enthusiasm and relaxing experience.  

Diet :

  • Kapha aggravation disturbs the digestive system hence person experience various digestive problems
  • Avoid heavy, oily, sour & sweet food & drinks. As these foods are naturally increase kapha, they will aggravate the present symptoms.
  • Time to eat: Kapha is predominant during day time 6am to 10 am so avoid excess eating during that period stick with a light breakfast. Avoid eating sweet, cold foods during that period. Make your lunch be the biggest meal of the day. Having lunch in pitta time will aid in digestion. 
  • Take in barley, wheat, rice bitter vegetables, mango.      
  • Spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fennel helpful stimulate the digestion and detoxify the skin. These spices pacify the aggravated kapha in the body. They stimulate the digestive fire or agni and restores the digestion. 
  • Drink Asava (fermented infusion), Arista (fermented decoction), sidhu (fermented sugarcane juice)
  • Fresh ginger tea: Drink warm fresh ginger tea with honey

Lifestyle:
Go for vigorous exercises, this will help in clearing the increased kapha. 

  • Cut down your smoking habit. smoking causes indigestion that again results in kapha aggravation.
  • Avoid day-time naps: especially sleeping after the lunch as this slows down the digestion.
  • Do dry massage is very helpful as it produces dry heat by friction it helps in pacifying kapha
  • After massage bath with sandalwood water
  • Apply Sandalwood or agaru on the body
  • Panchkarma:  like Vamana is given. Vamana is also called as emesis therapy. It is the best elimination therapy for kapha dosha. Emesis is the controlled and physician supervised exporatory procedure. It is also called as "Shodhan Chikitsa" 

Grishma (summer)

General condition

Mid-May to mid-July (approximately) is considered as Grishma(summer) season. Environment is prevalent with intense heat and unhealthy wind. The river-bodies dried and the plants appear lifeless. The predominant Rasa is Katu(pungent) and Mahabhuta are Agni and Vayu. The strength of the person become less, deposition of Vata Dosha occurs, but the vitiated Kapha Dosha is pacified during this season. Agni of the person will remain in mild state.

Diet regimen

Foods which are light to digest—those having Madhura (sweet), Snigdha(unctuous), Sheeta (cold), and Drava (liquid) Guna, such as rice, lentil, etc, are to be taken. Drinking plenty of water and other liquids, such as cold water, buttermilk, fruit juices, meat soups, mango juice, churned curd with pepper, is to be practiced. At bedtime milk with sugar candy is to be taken.

Lavana and food with Katu (pungent) and Amla (sour) taste and Ushna (warm) foods are to be avoided.

Lifestyle

Staying in cool places, applying sandal wood and other aromatic pastes over the body, adorning with flowers, wearing light dresses and sleeping at day time are helpful. During night one can enjoy the cooled moonrays with breeze. Excessive exercise or hardwork is to be avoided; too much sexual indulgence and alcoholic preparations are prohibited.

Varsha (monsoon)

General condition

Mid-July to mid-September (approximately) is considered as Varsha Ritu. During this season the sky is covered by clouds and rains occur without thunderstorm. The ponds, rivers, etc., are filled with water. The predominant Rasa andMahabhuta during this season are Amla (sour), and Prithvi and Agni, respectively.The strength of the person again becomes less, vitiation of Vata Dosha and deposition ofPitta Dosha, Agni also gets vitiated.

Diet regimen

Foods having Amla (sour) and Lavana (salty) taste and of Sneha (unctuous) qualities are to be taken. Among cereals, old barley, rice, wheat, etc., are advised. Besides meat soup, Yusha (soup), etc. are to be included in the diet. It is mentioned that one should take medicated water or boiled water.

Intake of river water, churned preparations having more water, excessive liquid and wine are to be avoided. The foods, which are heavy and hard to digest, like meat, etc., are prohibited.

Lifestyle

Use of boiled water for bath and rubbing the body with oil properly after bath is advised. Medicated Basti (enema) is prescribed as an evacuative measure to expel vitiated Doshas.

Getting wet in rain, day-sleep, exercise, hard work, sexual indulgence, wind, staying at river-bank, etc., are to be prohibited.

Varsha (monsoon)

General condition

Mid-July to mid-September (approximately) is considered as Varsha Ritu. During this season the sky is covered by clouds and rains occur without thunderstorm. The ponds, rivers, etc., are filled with water. The predominant Rasa andMahabhuta during this season are Amla (sour), and Prithvi and Agni, respectively. The strength of the person again becomes less, vitiation of Vata Dosha and deposition ofPitta Dosha, Agni also gets vitiated.

Diet regimen

Foods having Amla (sour) and Lavana (salty) taste and of Sneha(unctuous) qualities are to be taken. Among cereals, old barley, rice, wheat, etc., are advised. Besides meat soup, Yusha (soup), etc. are to be included in the diet. It is mentioned that one should take medicated water or boiled water.

Intake of river water, churned preparations having more water, excessive liquid and wine are to be avoided. The foods, which are heavy and hard to digest, like meat, etc., are prohibited.

Lifestyle

Use of boiled water for bath and rubbing the body with oil properly after bath is advised. Medicated Basti (enema) is prescribed as an evacuative measure to expel vitiated Doshas.

Getting wet in rain, day-sleep, exercise, hard work, sexual indulgence, wind, staying at river-bank, etc., are to be prohibited.

Sharad (autumn)

General condition

The period between mid-September to mid-November is Sharat Ritu(autumn). During this time the Sun becomes bright, the sky remains clear and sometimes with white cloud, and the earth is covered with wet mud. The predominant Rasa is Lavana (salty) and predominant Mahabhutas are Apa and Agni. The strength of the person remains medium, pacification of vitiated Vata Dosha and vitiation ofPitta Dosha occur, and activity of Agni increases during this season.

Diet regimen

Foods are having Madhura (sweet) and Tikta (bitter) taste, and of Laghu(light to digest) and cold properties are advised. Foods having the properties to pacify vitiated Pitta are advised. Wheat, green gram, sugar candy, honey, Patola(Trichosanthes diocia), flesh of animals of dry land (Jangala Mamsa) are to be included in the diet.

Hot, bitter, sweet, and astringent foods are to be avoided. The food items, such as fat, oils, meat of aquatic animals, curds, etc., are also to be not included in the diet during this season.

Lifestyle

Habit of eating food, only when there is a feeling of hunger is recommended. One should take water purified by the rays of sun in day time and rays of moon at night time for drinking, bathing, etc. It is advised to wear flower garlands, and to apply paste of Chandana (Santalum album) on the body. It is said that moon rays in the first 3 h of night is conducive for health. Medical procedures, such as Virechana (purging), Rakta-Mokshana (blood letting), etc, should be done during this season.

Day-sleep, excessive eating, excessive exposure to sunlight, etc., are to be avoided.

Hemanta (late autumn)

General condition

Mid-November to mid-January is considered as Hemanta (late autumn) Ritu. Blow of cold winds starts and chillness is felt. Predominant Rasa during this season is Madhura and the predominant Mahabhutas are Prithivi and Apa. The strength of a person remains on highest grade and vitiated Pitta Dosha gets pacified. Activity of Agni is increased.

Diet regimen

One should use unctuous, sweet, sour, and salty foods. Among cereals and pulses, new rice, flour preparations, green gram, Masha, etc., are mentioned to be used. Various meats, fats, milk and milk products, sugarcane products, Shidhu(fermented preparations), Tila (sesame), and so on, are also to be included in the diet.

Vata aggravating foods, such as Laghu (light), cold, and dry foods are to be avoided. Intake of colddrinks is also contraindicated.

Lifestyle

Exercise, body and head massage, use of warm water, Atapa-sevana(sunbath), application of Agaru on body, heavy clothing, sexual indulgence with one partner, residing in warm places is recommended.

  • Exposure to strong and cold wind, habit of day sleep, etc., are mentioned to be avoided.

References

1. Kushwaha HC, editor. Pratham Bhag. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Orientalia; 2009. Acharya Charaks’ Charak Samhita.

2. Tripathi B, editor. Acharya Charaks’ Charak Samhita. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Surbharati Prakashan; 2007.

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