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The Tradition of Respecting and Celebrating Food

This post is for #BharatKaZaika is a blogging event conducted by #BlogBoosterIndia. 

A story to begin with

After winning the great battle of kurukshetra, Yudhisthira was now king of Hastinapur. And then one day, all of sudden Krishna went to Yudhishithira and started saying in urgency "dadasvannam dadasvannam dadasvannam yudhisthira (“Give food! Give food! Give food! Yudhisthira). As the great battle had affected everyone in the country, food was the first way to start giving relief to the suffering countrymen.  As suggested by Krishna, yudhisthira then organized the great asvamedha-yajna. Mahabharata records an extraordinary celebration of distributing food as a part of the sacred year-long rites and rituals.

Our food heritage

You see, In our country, there is a tradition of respecting and celebrating food. The spirit of classical Indian civilization guided that primary duty of the king is to ensure that none within his domain suffers from hunger. Hence the king ensured that people were well equipped to grow food. That was the only way the king could make his people well fed. Indian literature further stated that the primitive dharma of a common man was to grow and share food in plenty. As per texts of the Shastras, the one who prepares and gives food in abundance, with high care and veneration, obtains food in abundance with the same high care and veneration. And this is how came the concepts of food charity. Asvamedha-yajna was the biggest event of food charity in ancient time. And today's kanya pujan and bhandara has its intent coming from the same belief "who gives food in abundance, obtains food in abundance".

In Upanishads, it is said "Annam na nindyat tad vratam". This literally means that treat nourishment with great respect. Never show disrespect to nourishment. That should be a vow. And thus, we have Ayurveda that is purely grounded on treatment based out of food. Ayurveda treats every ailment using the unique property of food items. We understood the traits of each food items and culminated that in our day to day life.

Perhaps this is the reason we Indians are close to obsessed about food. We have such a huge diversity in terms of food heritage. You walk a mile and the taste of food will change. We are only civilization in which food is as sacred as God. Hindu even worships a goddess of food "Annapurna Maa" who has a magical pot in her hand that can satisfy the hunger of the whole universe. It is in India, that we look upon the guests, besides our mothers, fathers, as gods. There is a discipline of not letting anyone go unfed and un-cared. We belong that culture in which we can't return an empty bowl to our neighbor whom we lend a cup of sugar when we run out of it. Something has to be in the bowl before we go and return it to bagal wali bhabhi/didi/aunty with a wide smile on our faces.

What research says about Indian food

As per research done by IIT people, we have such a strange food culture that even with negative food pairing, Indian food tastes such delicious.  One of the notions associated with ingredient co-occurrence is positive food pairing hypothesis. As per the theory, ingredients sharing common flavor compounds (simply, similar taste) are more likely to taste well together than ingredients that do not. While this hypothesis holds true for some cuisines like North American, Western European and Latin American, it does not hold for a few others (Southern European and East Asian) that have negative food pairing. Indian cuisine is the best example of negative food pairing. And no wonder spices are key contributors to the negative ingredient pairing. Green bell pepper, coriander, garam masala, tamarind, ginger garlic paste, chilly, clove, mustard, cumin and cinnamon, I guess the list can go very long if we notice that our food is incomplete without them.

What changed with time

However, since the last 50 years, there is a growing trend of hating food in our country. We are setting food responsible for our un-shaped bodies, health issues, stress, and for low income also. Now, this, in fact, holds true for food that is not local and regional. We are eating what the food industry is promoting; Junk items, ready to eat, quick meals and preserved food. Our bodies are not much programmed to consume nourishment from food items that are not familiar. Then there is also an industry that wants to make us fit with exotic food items and supplements. However, our systems are getting confused in understanding the chemistry of imported grains and fruits, and we are not able to get what is claimed.

Another form of hate is disappearing farmers. Now the percentage of people who grow food is getting decreased. Farmers have become the name of suffering. No one wants to become a farmer, rather wants to do a work that can bring money with less labor.  There are many reasons why people hate growing food in today's time. And honestly, I don't have a specific solution to this problem. Nevertheless, this is conflicting with what our culture has set as the reason for abundance. Today’s India is perhaps no more a land of such acute scarcity as it was under British rule. The growing Indian economy is trying to align itself with the international market places. However, modern India is negligent in following the basic discipline that classical India has taught us with such great importance.

If we go by our classical verses and books, the resurgence of India is possible only when we again excel in agriculture and ensure an abundance of food-grains, as well as restoring the classical discipline of sharing in plenty!

"Annam na parichaksheeta tad vratam" (Never turn away from nourishment. That should be a vow.)

“#BharatKaZaika is a blogging event conducted by #BlogBoosterIndia. Hosted by Aditi, Mahesh, Pragun, Preeti, Saba, Sanjota, Sudip, Suhasini, Supriya and sponsored by Habhit Wellness Private Ltd.

Bharat Ka Zaika

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  1. Why can I say about this post, It is just too good. You stole my heart. India is a land of diversity with a rich culture. Words fall short when we start taking about it. When it is cooked with so much of love, care for the family members, it automatically becomes tasty. We don't need any special flavoring agent to make it delicious. And what you said about the vow is s very true.

  2. Lovely post! I completely agree with you- we must turn to our land and grow our food for true progress. #BharatKaZaika
    Noor Anand Chawla

  3. Every word u said is so true Shipra. I wish we could turn the clock and revere our food and give it the respect it deserves. #BharatKaZaika #BlogBoosterIndia. @habhitwellness

  4. Great post on #BharatKaZaika, I love Indian food, cuisine, spices, way of cooking and history connected to it, also each ingredient has ayurvedic value also. And yes its sad to see farmers selling there farms for commercial constructions and it feels bad that what and where will farming go after few years and what will be the state of agriculture if it continues similarly.

  5. Wow that was so informative and seemed too yummy

  6. Fantastic post. I got to know something that I was not aware of. Detailed post.

  7. Very informational post!!!Wish and hope value of food and value of farmers will rise high and high in future.

  8. An informative post on Indian food and eating habits of Indians. The age-old tradition of worshipping food needs to be revived.
    Enjoyed reading:)

  9. Slowly but surely we are losing our food heritage. A time will come when the whole world would eat the same junk.
    Good piece.
    #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

  10. Loved the post. Never knew these details of the Mahabharata or the upanishads. Thank you for this.

  11. Such an informative post shipra and I agree Indian food culture has its wide range of diversity and uniqueness. I really appreciate your effort for sharing such in depth info in this post. #bharatkazaika

  12. What a detailed post about Indian food! Absolutely brilliant. Yes, we Indians are known for our variety of food items and the spices. When they ask what you eat as a vegetarian I just say I'm Indian because we have tons of options. Yes, we do treat food like god. One of the best post I read today in #BharatKaZaika campaign :)

  13. Such an amazing post. got to know something new

  14. If someone asks me 'What is Food to you as an Indian?' I will be showing this post for the answer. You have brought out the essence of our Indian Food Culture. How deeply the whole process of growing, harvesting, cooking and eating food has been embedded in the lives of Indian and thus became a part of our heritage, has been told in this post in such a simple way.
    The way you have used shlokas in between to emphasis the point that food is an integral part of our lives from ancient times...touched me the most. I read this post to my kids to make them value the food that they get on their plate. I think this is necessary. Incredible Post. Loved it immensely.
    #preetispanorama #BharatKaZaika

  15. We teach our kids how to save and make money, instead we should teach them how to grow and make their own food. It will be the great learning for the future generation


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