Ritu in Sanskrit means Season and Charya means moving or following. It
is the observance of diet and regimen according to the seasonal changes.
In Ayurveda, a year is divided into 2 kaala or periods based on the apparent position
of the sun in the north and southern directions. Ayurveda believes in maintain
health and prevention from disease , the age old science of life, has always emphasized to maintain the health and prevent the diseases by following proper diet
and lifestyle regimen rather than treatment and cure of the diseases.
With the change in season, the change is very evident in the environment we live in. We see various changes in bio-life around us, such as flowering in spring and leaf-shedding in autumn in the plants, hibernation of many animals with the coming of winter, and so on.
Thus in every Ritu (season) the atmosphere is changed, according to the changes in the qualities of Universal affecting subjects mentioned before. These changes are responsible for the changes in characters of Prakriti (genetic constitution) normally as well as responsible to create imbalance or abnormal changes in Doshas resulting into disease. So the particular diseases of that prominent Dosha are common in that season only.
In the present days a Human being is so involved in the various busy activities, that they are not able to grasp the changes, and their natural remedy. So they has to face many health problems throughout the year. To get out of this vicious circle, one must know their own Prakriti (genetic constitution) and its relation with the different ritus, (season) and behave accordingly. Now a day it may not be possible to behave as per Dinacharya (daily routine) or Ritucharya (seasonal lifestyle) due to vast change in the mode of life, and ignore the principles stated in it and alter it accordingly.
In RITUCHARYA , It is observed that the Doshas which are there since origin of the Prakriti, (genetic constitution) are liable to be vitiated in the Ritus (season) of same origin by simple aggravating causes.
The Ahara (diet) , Desha (region), JALA (water), Vayu (Air) and Kala (time) are the factors which are common and responsible for atmospheric changes. Out of them, the Kala (time) has much more importance, as it cannot be avoided and it not under the control of the individual, like other factors, which can be avoided or controlled, if an individual thinks. The excess or deficient or false manifestation or Ritu kala (season) are going to affect the Prakriti (genetic constitution) and so one must follow the specific Ritucharya (seasonal lifestyle).
In India there are 6 types of seasons:-
These are :-
- Shishir Ritucharya (winter season) 23rd Dec. to first half of Feb.
- Basant Ritucharya (spring) 02nd half of Feb. to first half of Apr.
- Gresham Ritucharya (summers) 02nd half of Apr. to first half of June.
- Varsha Ritucharya (rainy) 23rd June to first half of Aug
- Sharad Ritucharya (autumn) 02nd half of Aug. to first half of Oct.
- Hemant Ritucharya (early winters) 02nd half of Oct. to 22nd of Dec
The Dosha - Ritu Connection
If body is unable to adopt itself to stressors due to changes in specific traits of seasons, it may lead to Dosha Vaishamya, which in turn may render the body highly susceptible to one or other kinds of disorders.such as :
- lifestyle-related disease
- Blood pressure
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Depression and Migraine
- Gastritis , acidity
- Skin Disorder etc.
The seasons have a natural effect on the tridosa. the strength of a person is disturb when suitable diets and routines are not adopted according to each season.
To avoid this one must have knowledge of the qualities of the seasons and their influence on tridosa. Once the dosas has accumulated beyond a certain limit, it becomes aggravated and symptoms of this may be manifested.
Regimen of different seasons:-
A continuous stream of warm, herbal oil flows from an overhead vessel through a small aperture onto the forehead. This treatment is said to purify the mind-body, and profoundly relax the nervous system. Individuals experience twilight states of consciousness between waking and dreaming.
01. Shishira (winter)
- 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) and Akasha, respectively.
- The strength of the person becomes less, deposition of the Kapha Dosha occurs and Agni (catabolism) remains in a higher state.
- 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.
- 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.
02. Vasanta (spring)
- The approximate time is from mid-March to mid-May. This season is considered as season of flowering and origin of new leaves.
- Predominant Rasa and Mahabhuta during this season are Kashaya (astringent), and Prithvi and Vayu, respectively.
- Strength of the person remains in medium degree, vitiation of Kapha Dosha occurs and Agni remains in Manda state.
- One should take easily digestible foods. Among cereals, old barley, wheat, rice, and others are preferred.
- Among pulses, lentil, Mugda, and others, can be taken. Food items tasting Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent), and Kashaya (astringent) are to be taken.
- Besides those, honey is to be included in the diet. Meats like that of Shahsa (rabbit), which are easy to digest can be taken.
- Foods which are hard to digest are to be avoided.
- Those which are Sheeta (cold), Snigdha (viscous), Guru (heavy), Amla (sour), Madhura (sweet) are not preferred. New grains, curd, cold drinks, and so on, are also to be prohibited.
- One should use warm water for bathing purpose, may do exercise during Vasant Ritu.
- Udvartana (massage) with powder of Chandana (Santalum album), Kesara (Crocus sativus), Agaru, and others, Kavala (gargle), Dhooma (smoking), Anjana (collyrium), and evacuative measures, such as Vamana and Nasya are advised.
- Day-sleep is strictly contraindicated during this season.
03. Grishma (summer)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
04. Varsha (monsoon)
- 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 and Mahabhuta 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 of Pitta Dosha, Agni also gets vitiated.
- 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.
- 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.
05. Sharat (autumn)
- 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 of Pitta Dosha occur, and activity of Agni increases during this season.
- 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.
- 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.
06. Hemanta (late autumn)
- Mid-November to mid-January is considered as Hemanta (late autumn) Ritu. Blow of cold winds starts and chillness is felt.
- In Hemanta (fall winter), the atmosphere is very cold, so the air, water and other subjects become very cool and cold. The nights are longer than day. This coldness affects the skin.
- The blood vessels, which get constricted, to prevent heat loss of the body. So the internal body heat increases, due to which the Agni (fire) is increased, resulting into increased appetite - digestion and thereby strength and power of the body
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Effect of Hemant Ritu and Shishir Rituon body
Jatharagni (digestive fire) get ignited and appetite increases. Due to this capacity body easily digest guru aahar (heavy food).
As this lies in dakshiayan phase hence body grows due to increased appetite. Heavy food is not consumed accordingly then this increased metabolism of the body start consuming bodies dhatus therefore leading to weaknesses body.
Panchkarma procedures if practice regularly gives following benefits:
- These prophylactic (preventive) panchkarma procedures should be undertaken in moderate seasons and avoided in extreme climatic conditions like – extreme not indicated, those are needed only during summer or rain.
- During sanchaya kala of vatadi doshas, shodhana measures are not indicated; those are needed only during prakopa stage only. Panchkarma as prevention: the importance of panchkarma in Ayueveda is testified by the fact that it is essentially applicable to all cases covering a wide range of preventive curative and promotive conditions.
- The concept of preventive medicine has broadened to include health promotion, treatment, specific protection.
- It improves the functioning of kayagni (digestive fire)
- Remission of the diseases
- Excel of the sense organs
- Excel of the intellect
- Excel of the body complexion
- Enhancement of the physical strength
- Improvement of the physique
- Strengthening the ability of procreation
- Enhancement of sexual vigor
- Process of aging being slowed down
- Healthy living for long
Ritus and Purificatory therapies, the Pancha karma
As seasons change so does the balance of the doshas inside our body and in the environment. To bring back the dosha equilibrium in our body, the vitiated doshas have to be expelled out of the body. This is done by performing purificatory therapies.
The purificatory therapies are five in number and are called panchakarma. They are:-
- Vamana - emesis
- Virechana - purgation
- Vasti – enema
- Nasya - nasal drop
- Rakta mokshana - bloodletting
Along with panchkarmas other upkramas like:-
- Swedana etc are also beneficial for elimination of doshas.
Rituwise advised panchakarmas:-
The aim of panchkarma procedure is to settle the perturbation of doshas and restore their equilibrium.
- Vasant ritu → kapha prakopa -Vamana is recommended as Ritu shodhana to avoid kaphaja roga.
- Varsha ritu → vata prakopa -Vasti is indicated to prevent vataroga.
- Sharad ritu → pitta prakopa - Virechan is indicated to avoid likely pittaja complaints.
- First, do no harm, provide the most effective health care available with the least risk to patients at all times.
- Recognize, respect and promote the self-healing power of nature inherent in each individual human being.
- Identify and remove the causes of illness, rather than eliminate or suppress symptoms.
- Educate, inspire rational hope and encourage self-responsibility for health.
- Treat each person by considering all individual health factors and influences.
- Emphasize the condition of health to promote well-being and to prevent diseases for the individual, each community and our world.
Shad Karma Chikitsa:-
- Sutra Netii
- Kunjan kriyai
- Shank Prakshlanai
- Noli kriyai
- Tradaka Kriyai