NEW DELHI: PM Narendra Modi will begin his annual ritual of ‘nakkoda’ fasting that he has been observing every navratri for the past 35 years — nine days of drinking only water and strict adherence to yoga, meditation and puja at dusk — a day before he leaves for a five-day visit to the US on September 26. Modi fasts on both navratris — spring and autumn. The act, he has said in his book, Saakshibhav and in his blog, is his yearly self-purification exercise that gives him strength and ability to converse with ‘Ambe ma’ every night.
This time the fast coincides with the banquets that US President Barack Obama and the diaspora community may lay out for him during his stay there. It is believed that Obama will host one on September 29 evening. The NRIs too have organised a publicised reception for him at the Madison Square Gardens on September 28. “The Gujarat navaratri permits you to have a vrat thaali with sabudhaana items but Modiji believes in a stricter form of penance,” said one of his close aides.
Sources said some officials in the PMO and MEA in charge of protocol are in talks with the Indian embassy in the US to make arrangements for his fast. For Obama’s banquets, Michelle Obama is said to work with the best chefs to create a menu that will also include fresh fruit and vegetables straight from her kitchen garden in the White House. “Considering this is a very important meeting, he might have a token soup, salad, fruit or juice there but will avoid grains,” said one of Modi’s associates.
The PM might refrain from eating even at the reception accorded by the NRIs. A source said the PM, especially after the Patna blasts, has stopped eating outside food and has been taking along his cook even to some of his foreign tours. He said the meetings will go on as planned as Modi does not compromise on work. A Gujarat CMO official said during fasts he is said to have had fewer appointments and finish work by 10 pm, at least an hour before the regular time.