According to the Lunisolar Hindu Calendar, the time preceding the winter months represents the Hemant Ritu, which means ‘Pre-Winter’ in Sanskrit. The most pleasant time of the year, with a gradual but significant nip in the air, Hemant Ritu brings cool breezy mornings and late evenings with it. Referred to as the ‘Dewy Season’ in the Yajur Veda, this is the time when the powerful rays of the Sun begin to wane, and there is an overcast of greyness with mildly warm days.
The sweet scent of the Night Blooming Jasmine or Raat ki Rani in the air leaves you feeling calm and adds a sense of dreaminess to the season. With neither the scorching Sun to shy from nor the chilly windy air that makes us yearn for the Sun again, Hemant Ritu is the perfect time to enjoy taking a stroll outside in the evenings.
According to Ayurveda, the entire year is divided into 2 Kaals or periods, comprising 3 seasons each or Ritu, which last for about 2 months. The word Ritu or Rtu is Sanskrit for ‘a fixed time’, especially a time which was decided to perform a ritual. Charya in Ritucharya means discipline or regimen, which represents the lifestyle and dietary changes the body demands to cope with concerns caused by seasonal changes.
Ayurveda recommends observing a set Ritucharya for every Ritu, which balances out our 3 Doshas, which helps us build immunity and keeps us fit throughout the year.
According to the scriptures, there are six Ritus or seasons:
. Vasant Ritu: Spring
. Grishma Ritu: Summer
. Varsha Ritu: Monsoon
. Sharad Ritu: Autumn
. Hemant Ritu: Pre-winter
. Shishir or Shita Ritu: Winter
The beginning of the winter in India marks the onset of Hemant Ritu and ends with the winter solstice in January. Keeping the Hindu calendar into consideration, Hemant Ritu prevails during the months of Margashirsha and Pausa, which are the ninth and tenth months of the calendar. However, in the Gregorian calendar, it is from the month of mid-October to mid-December.
Ayurveda recommends Hemant Ritucharya (lifestyle modifications and regimen for winter) to keep the Doshas balanced and prevent winter-related health concerns. One must incorporate a few changes in their lifestyle, diet and routine to keep the doshas in balance.
During Hemant Ritu, the Vata dosha (air) is at its peak along with the digestive fire (Agni), and the body seeks a substantial and nutritious diet. Hence, following a supportive winter diet is necessary to keep the Vata and digestive fire in place.
Diet and lifestyle during Hemant Ritu
Diet: Agni (fire), one of the 5 elements or Mahabhutas, is at its strongest, which makes us feel hungry, and the body seeks a substantial and nutritious diet. At a time when Kapha (water & earth) dominates, and the vitiated Pitta (fire) is assuaged, Ayurveda says Rasa or the taste that dominates this season, is Madhura or sweet and incorporates honey and jaggery as desserts. It is best to have food that keeps you warm, pulses and grain, copious amounts of Organic Ghee and dishes that have some amount of oil. It is also the time when you prepare your digestive system for the harsh winter months, so it is recommended to avoid junk and carbonated drinks and try to incorporate meats in your meals that keep you warm from within.
Lifestyle: Ayurveda suggests it is beneficial to keep your body moving by frequently exercising to keep yourself warm, for proper blood circulation and for your system to run smoothly. One should also opt for warm clothes, sun baths or sun exposure for at least 15 minutes daily, and frequent head and body massages.
Hair, Body and Skincare during Hemant Ritu
The Hemant Ritu aggravates Vata Dosha leading to dull and dry skin that needs intense nourishment. To keep the skin nourished, glowing and healthy, Ayurveda suggests a few practices and rituals to detoxify and rejuvenate the skin.
Parisheka - Warm Water Bath: Use warm, not hot, water to take a shower. Taking warm showers or Parikesha counteracts the effects of cold weather on the skin and body. You can further use body scrubs to release built-up energy and remove dead cells. Follow it up with a nourishing and hydrating body moisturiser such as the Hemp Comforting ayurvedic Body Butter, which is enriched with 100% Pure and Organic Hemp Seed Oil that intensely nourishes, provides deep repair, enhances skin elasticity and alleviates dryness to promote cell regeneration.
Abhyanga - Oil massage: Increase the frequency of oil massages or Abhyangas to deeply nourish the body, retain moisture and detoxify with oils. You can warm the choice of your oil slightly before applying, which helps the body relax, releases toxins and adds a natural radiance to the skin. Using oils such as coconut oil and sesame oil are the best traditional oils to use for Abhyagas, however, you can also opt for 100% Organic Cold Pressed Hemp Oil for skin and hair alike. Enriched with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it has a luscious, lightweight texture that absorbs well into the skin. Hemp helps soothe the skin, evens out skin tone and deeply nourishes the skin.
Shiro-Abhyanga – Head massage: one of the most important massages, head massages or Shiro Abhyanga is often missed during these months. A regular head massage with warm oil helps prevent the hair from drying and prevents dandruff and hair fall. Follow it up with a warm head shower with Ayurvedic shampoos to give your head double nourishment. Use Intensive Hair Therapy Oil with Curry Leaves & Hibiscus to provide deep nourishment to the hair, promote hair growth and make it lustrous and strong from the roots.