WHY INDIAN EAT WITH HAND? SCIENCE BEHIND IT.
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 a indian participants 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 Ayurvedic teachings. The Vedic people knew the power held in the hand.
The ancient native tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from the mudra practice, which is prevalent in many aspects within Hinduism. Mudras are used during mediation and are very prominent within the many classical forms of dance, such as Bharatnatyam.
The hands are considered the most precious organ of action. This is linked to the Vedic prayer of
“Karagre vasate Laksmih karamule Sarasvati Karamadhye tu Govindah prabhate karadarsanam”
(On the tip of your fingers is Goddess Lakshmi, on the base of your fingers is Goddess Saraswati; in the middle of your fingers is Lord Govinda), which we recite whilst looking at our palms. Thus, this shloka suggests that all the divinity lies in human effort.
Our hands and feet are said to be the conduits of the five elements. The Ayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements. Through the thumb comes space; through the forefinger, air; through the mid-finger, fire; through the ring finger, water and through the little finger it is earth.
Benefits of Eating with Hands instead of Spoons and Forks
There are many hidden benefits of eating food with hands. Check them out here to ditch those forks and spoons, and start using your hands to eat.
Eating with hands is an age old tradition followed in India. But unfortunately, this tradition is rapidly disappearing among new generation that is more inclined towards Western culture. They prefer eating with spoons and forks instead of hands. In fact, in today’s times, the practice of eating with hands is considered to be unhygienic, disgusting and primitive. It’s really bad that most people are unaware of the fact that this ancient practice has a number of health benefits. Even in Ayurveda, it has been mentioned that eating with your hands can benefit your health in numerous ways. A few surprising benefits of eating with hands are given below. Take a look and you’re sure to ditch those spoons and forks right away.
According to a study published by the American Academy of Food Science, eating with hands is much more beneficial to health than eating with the spoon, fork and knife. Because eating with your hands makes you feel full, sooner and thus prevent you from overeating. Moreover, using your hands facilitates your body to readily absorb more nutrients because the food that you eat is also absorbed into your bloodstream through your hands unlike when you eat with spoons or forks. There are many other benefits like these that support the practice of eating with hands.
Increase energy levels
According to Ayurveda, human body is composed of five elements – air, water, fire, earth and space. An imbalance in any one of these elements can disrupt the immunity system and cause various diseases. Also ayurvedic texts teaches us that each of our finger is related to one of the five elements (the thumb indicates fire, the index finger represents air, the middle finger correlates with sky, the ring finger indicates earth and the little finger indicates water). So when you join your fingers and thumb to eat food, you unknowingly bring all these five elements together and keep them in harmony with one another. Eventually, the energy level of your body increases and helps you stay healthy.
The moment you touch the food with your hands, your brain will signal your stomach that you’re about to eat. The nerve endings in your fingers will sense the temperature of the food, level of spiciness, etc. and accordingly the brain will tell your stomach to produce the required digestive juices and enzymes. All this happens even before you put the food in your mouth and thus helps digestion significantly.
Protects your mouth from getting burnt
When eating with hands, you’ll never burn your mouth by putting something that is too hot to eat. Because your hands can gauge how hot the food is. On the other hand, when you use a spoon or fork to eat, the food goes directly from your plate into your mouth. In this case, you’re more likely to scald your tongue or burn your mouth as your brain will not get the signal whether the food is too hot for you to put in your mouth.
Promotes mindful eating and help with weight loss
When eating with hands, your total concentration will be on your food and plate. You’ll pay attention to what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Such ‘mindful eating’ is beneficial for your health in a number of ways. For instance, it improves the assimilation of nutrients from the food you eat, enhances digestion, and help you maintain weight. On the contrary, eating with a spoon or a fork promotes mindless eating that causes people to eat more than they realize.
Protects your body from harmful bacteria
Not all bacteria are bad – some bacteria are really good for your body and they protect you from various harmful bacteria present in the environment. Some of these good bacteria also reside on our hands. So when you eat with your hands, you will consume these beneficial bacteria along with food. And this in turn will help maintain the natural balance of good and bad bacteria in your body. However, make sure to wash your hands before and after meals to keep them clean and hygienic.
Makes eating fun
Eating with your hands is not only good for your health, but also makes eating more fun! Also it is beleived that food tastes better when you have it with your hands. So, next time when you have a meal with your friends of family, just try serving it up without silverware, and see how everyone enjoys your food more!
Eating food with your hands does have various scientific benefits:
- It ignites Agni (Fire) element in body before food reaching to stomach & body prepares for digestion according to the type of food coming inside
- Body gets ready with required enzymes, amino acids, etc before even food going into mouth, All body sensors starts its actions and become alert for food.
- Gurufeet blog says eating with hands improves “Energetic cleansing of food”
- ” Eating with hands evokes great emotion, it kindles something very warm and gentle and caressing” says Julie Sahni, a new york based chef, according to the published report on how eating with hands is healthier at guardianlv.com.
- Also, by using utensils while eating makes process more mechanical where as hand touch makes it more physical and engages in eating body /sensors in eating process.
- Easy in cutting and breaking of food with hands,
- Improves consciousness
- Healthy way as it helps in digestion process,
- Improves sense of pleasure of eating
- It is spiritual and mindful experience,
- Get a feel of temperature before going to mouth
- It s all about practice and habit, once your start using hands for eating it becomes routine and also you will feel it is more convenient way.
- If you are wondering about Hygiene, you can wash your hands before and after the meal with soap or finger bowls as served in Indian restaurants.
You may have noticed that elders in the family hardly ever use utensils to measure all the different type of masala, 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.