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Eating With Hands

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Eating With Hands
Taken from US Brahmins Group, By Raman K, Sep 2, 2012

Why do we Indians eat food with our hands?
Ancient Eating food with the hands in today's Western society can sometimes be perceived as being unhygienic, bad mannered and primitive. However within Indian culture there is an old saying that, "Eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit".

In the Big Brother series some years back, an English participant complained about an Indian participants about the use of her hands during food preparations and her eating habits, "They eat with their hands in India, don't they? Or is that China? You don't know where those hands have been." Within many Indian households nowadays, the practice of eating food with the hands has been replaced with the use of cutlery.

Have you ever thought of why previous generations in India ate with the hands? There is a reason for their this. The practice of eating with
the hands originated within Aayurvedic teachings. The Vaidik people knew the power held in their hand. The ancient native tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from the Mudraa (posture) practice, which is prevalent in many aspects within Hinduism. Mudraa are used during meditation and are very prominent within the many classical forms of dance, such as Bharat Naatyam.

The hands are considered the most precious organ of action. This is linked to the Vaidik prayer of
"Karaagre vasate Lakshmeeh kara Moole Saraswatee, Kara Madhye tu Govindah prabhaate kara Darshanam."
(On the tip of your hand is Goddess Lakshmee, on the base of your hand lives Goddess Saraswatee; and in the middle of your hand is Lord Govind, so look at your hands in the morning)
This Mantra we recite whilst looking at our palms. Thus, this Shlok suggests that all the divinity lie in human effort.

Our hands and feet are said to be the conduits of the five elements. The Aayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements.
--Thumb is Agni (Fire) (you might have seen children sucking their thumb, this is nature's way of aiding the digestion in children at an age when they are unable to do any physical activity to aid the digestion),
--Tarjanee, the first finger is Vayu (Air),
--Middle finger is Aakaash (Ether - the tiny intercellular spaces in the human body),
--Ring finger is Prithvi (Earth) and
--Little finger is Jal (water).

Each finger aids in the transformation of food, before it passes on to our internal digestion. Gathering the fingertips as they touch the food
stimulates the five elements and invites Agni to bring forth the digestive juices. As well as improving digestion the person becomes more conscious of the tastes, textures and smells of the foods they are eating, which all adds to the pleasure of eating.

You may have noticed that elders in the family hardly ever use utensils to measure all the different type of Masaalaa (spices), and would instead prefer to use their hands to measure the quantity instead. As each handful is tailored to provide a suitable amount for the own body. Overall there are 6 main documented forms that the hands take when obtaining a measurement a certain type of food ranging from solid food to seeds, and flour.

This is a prime example of how many things within Hindu culture may seem weird and unusual at first glance, but once a closer look is taken it is surprising, but a vast amount of knowledge is revealed.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 8/9/09
Updated on 09/02/12