” 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 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.
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 Bharat Natyam
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. The 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 an physical activity to aid the digestion), the forefinger is vayu (air), the middle finger is akash (ether – the tiny intercellular spaces in the human body), the ring finger is prithvi (earth) and the little finger is jal (water).
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.
(contributed by : AMR on 12.09.2012)