We are living in an era of wellness — on steroids. Everywhere you turn, there is someone giving a dictum of well-being — be it on TV, radio or social media. With so much half-baked information floating around, author, columnist and podcaster Vasudha Rai’s new book Ritual presents traditional practices to optimise, harmonise and maximise the energies of the sun and moon. It is a well-researched volume that goes beneath the surface of TikTok-era wellbeing. “A ritual can be anything that takes you into a meditative state of mind. It doesn’t have to be limited to traditional practices,” says Rai.
The flipbook-style cover in gold and silver foiling, befitting the polarities of the star and the satellite, has been designed by visual artist and bookmaker Akangksha Sarmah. The informative, well-structured book is divided into Moon rituals and Sun rituals.
My favourite section, meditative Moon rituals, oversees healing and rejuvenation. Divided into the pillars of Nurture, Heal and Rest, the section covers practices such as massages, sound healing and journalling and much more, signalling an energy that is “introspective, but must be driven by gratitude” she writes. The robust Sun ritual is divided into the pillars of Purify, Energise and Focus, covering topics such as sun bathing, eye exercises and outward cleanses, namely, a summation of energy driven by hope.
In our busy lives, how can we take out time for practices that are time-consuming? Very easily, demurs Rai. “We always make time for people and things that we love. Therefore, if we have pencilled in rituals into our day, we are making time for and prioritising our own wellbeing, which is a sign of self-love,” says Rai.
1. From your first book Glow: Indian Foods, Recipes and Rituals for Beauty, Inside and Out to Ritual, how has your perception of health, wellness and bliss changed?
I’ve always been someone who is extremely disciplined and sometimes that discipline comes in the way of health. Over the pandemic and two books, I realised that health or sattva is also addictive. Sometimes we forget to enjoy the present moment when every minute of the day is planned to the last detail. So, my biggest learnings have been honouring my body’s needs, my instincts, my needs, learning how to relax and practising rituals, because I have to come from a place of love and joy.
2. What inspired Ritual? What was the most challenging part about writing the book?
After I wrote Glow, I realised that health, beauty or wellness isn’t just the result of what we eat, but also how we live through the day. During that time, the conversation on circadian rhythms was also heating up and I think around 2018, three scientists won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering the gene responsible for circadian rhythms. Moreover, I’ve always enjoyed my daily practices much more than any sort of health food, so I wanted to share the magic these rituals can bring into people’s daily lives.
Ritual was a very challenging book to write because I wanted to simplify and break down each concept and make it very engaging. Unlike Glow which has the same format for each chapter, Ritual required innovation throughout the book, starting from the cover to the treatment of each chapter.
3. How can people decide which rituals work for them?
A ritual could be your morning cup of coffee with the paper, an evening run, cooking, dancing or even sipping a cup of tea. When choosing a ritual, it’s very important to stay connected with yourself. Don’t practice a ritual because it works for someone else. For instance, there may be a meditation practice that works for your friend but may make you anxious. So, you have to honour your own instinct and feelings when choosing a ritual. It’s a private practice that is supposed to make you feel more relaxed, rejuvenated and centred. If it’s making you anxious, it’s not worth your time.
4. My favourite line in the book is where you write that once you peel away the superstition and religion, rituals are tools to refine, pacify and stimulate or heal the body, mind and spirit. What are your favourite rituals and how have they transformed you?
My favourite ritual for beauty is a massage (I’m vata dominant). It has made my face more toned and sculpted. It is something I look forward to each morning as it helps me ground my thoughts and helps me plan my day. I also love the ritual of tea, yoni mujra meditation, nabi chikitsa and sound baths. I especially loved sound baths during my book launch as I was too stressed to do anything else and they helped give me a few moments of peace without putting in any effort.
5. With everyone speaking about holistic and ‘clean’ beauty, when there are no set standards, how can one incorporate it into one’s lifestyle?
I always say that nothing is 100% clean or sustainable. That said, there are many aspects of clean beauty that you can weave into your day. For instance, DIY masks, ubtans, hair oils, body scrubs and face massages.