Bhadrapada also known as Bhaado or Bhadra, the second of the two months of Varsha rtu, is the time of water. The earth’s thirst is quenched, the rivers and lakes are filled to the brim and yet Bhadrapada brings us more water, till it spills over, overflows and saturates the very air with palpable moisture. But in the midst of that deluge there is beauty – of a world freshly washed and rich with the growth of vegetation. Under the grey monsoon skies the earth sparkles in shades of green – verdant, lush, restful. But in this world of leaden skies, filled with rain-laden clouds and the abundance of water there is one element that we all need – fire.
Self Care Rituals
The warmth and energy of the Sun are no longer ours to bask in. And in this time of water our internal agni – our digestive fires are also at their lowest. Another impact of monsoon is felt in our skin. Because the lack of drying heat and the abundance of moisture in the air can make many of us experience skin irritation.
Salt Scrub Bath: A weekly or bi-weekly bath with a fragrant Salt Scrub during this month can keep our skin moisturised, glowing and infection and irritation free. Take a handful of good Sea Salt that has been coarsely ground. Add organic Coconut oil generously to make a rather loose paste. You can also opt to use Mustard oil. It is a potent warming oil. For fragrance add a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
To use: Scoop a generous handful and apply onto damp skin. Scrub in gentle circular motions and rinse off. Pat skin dry. The Salt scrub is not recommended for use on the face. Salt is antibacterial and keeps your skin infection free. The oil helps to moisturise your skin as well as ensure that the harshness of the salt is softened enough to result in gentle exfoliation.
Nurturing Agni: Our internal agni or digestive fire is the vital key to health, beauty and longevity according to Ayurveda. During Varsha rtu our agni is naturally at its lowest. Thus this is the time when we need to nurture and nourish our digestive fires. Ayurveda recommends Ginger as the warming spice par excellence when it comes to strengthening our agni.
- Agni Drink:1 tsp ground Cumin + ½ tsp freshly ground Pepper (or long Pepper for Pitta dominant constitutions) + 2 to 3 pinches of ground Ginger + 1 pinch of Rock Salt. Add the spices to 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and drink approximately 30 to 45 minutes before your meals. This recipe is recommended by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre.
- Body Massage:A body massage can be a good way to stimulate agni according to Ayurveda. Mustard oil is very heating and a good choice for a warming body massage. But if your digestive agni is very weak then Mustard oil should be avoided as your skin tissues will struggle to digest the oil. In such cases Garshana or dry brushing of the skin is highly recommended. This allows for better blood circulation and encourages lymphatic drainage. A dry powder massage is also recommended in Ayurveda to stimulate agni in the skin. “Dry powder massages are heating, stimulating, and dehydrating, making them beneficial for weak agni and excess Kapha." To use: Take as much of the dry massage powder as needed to gently massage your entire body. Post massage rinse body with lukewarm water and pat dry. Avoid the use of soap.
Body massage should not be done immediately after eating a meal. Either wait a few hours post meal or do the massage when your stomach is empty. Again, you can make a dry massage powder at home.
Here is the Sivananda Centre’s recipe for a dry massage powder: 300g chickpea flour + 2 Tbsp dried Basil + 2 Tbsp dried Sage + 1 Tbsp dried Neem leaf powder + 1 Tbsp Shallaki powder (optional) + 1 Tbsp Amlaki or Triphala powder + 2 Tbsp Rock Salt (finely ground). Mix well and store in a glass jar in dry place away from light.
Festivals of Bhadrapada
Bhadrapada is the birth month for one of the subcontinent’s most celebrated pairs of lovers – Radha and Krishna. Janamashtami or the birth of Krishna comes on the eight day of the waning Moon – on August 30 this year. And then, when the Moon wanes, growing more luminous in the waxing phase, then comes Radha Ashtami or the birth anniversary of Radha. This year it comes on September 14. There is something poignantly poetic in the fact that Radha and Krishna are born in the same month, on the same tithi – Ashtami but in different phases or pakshas of the Moon.
The festivities of monsoon are incomplete without a celebration of fertility and fecundity, which are defining characteristics of Varsha rtu. All three Teej festivals, which celebrate the union and fertility of Purusha (Shiva) and Prakriti (Parvati) are celebrated in Varsha rtu. Haryali Teej, which was celebrated in Shravana, is followed in Bhadrapada with Badi Teej or Kajari Teej on August 25 and Hartalika Teej on September 9. The last of the Teej is also celebrated as Gowri Habba in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
But by far the biggest festival of Bhadrapada is the one dedicated to the son of Shiva and Parvati – Ganesh. On Bhadrapada Shuklapaksh Chaturthi, the fourth day of the waxing Moon, Ganesh is ritually invited home and lovingly hosted for 10 days. And then finally after 10 days of celebration he is bid a ritual farewell with a visarjan or water immersion. This year Ganesh Chaturthi comes on September 10.
May Ganesh, the remover of all obstacles and the giver of success, bless us all this Bhadrapada.