So recently we were having our dinner, and my youngest Dhiyan aged 4 said to me…”Mummy why is it when we have Indian food we eat with our hands and when we eat other types of food we use spoons, knives and forks!!”. Good question when I am telling him to use a fork to eat his spaghetti, yet when having roti and rice and curry at home he happily eats with his hands!.
So off course I had to explore this questions The Jai Jais way…. Why do we eat with our hands?
Researching this, there is a skill to eating with hands and also many health benefits. There is also a deeper significance originating from Ayurvedic teachings. Vedic teachings believed our bodies are in close relation to the elements of nature, and our hands hold a certain energy. Ayurvedic texts teach us that each finger is an extension of the five elements:
Thumb finger connects to Agni-Fire.
Index finger connects to Vayu-Air.
Middle finger connects to Akash-Space.
Ring finger connects to Prithvi-Earth.
Little finger connects to Jal-Water.
When you eat with your hands you join your fingers together and push the food into your mouth with your thumb. This is believed to improve our consciousness of the taste of the food. We do not just feed our body we feed our mind and soul to. During eating with hands is helps practice mindful eating, showing the importance of eating slowly, feeling the texture, aroma and tasting the food, and enjoying it . When we touch our food with our hands we create spiritual and a physical connection. We are careful to check the temperature of the food, how much we out in our mouth, and careful not to drop it.
When you use your fingers to pick up food, millions of nerve endings in your fingers relay the message that you’re about to eat. This preps the stomach for digestion by releasing digestive juices and enzymes.
Our former prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru once said, "Eating Biryani with fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter,". Our regular diet includes rotis and parathas, which will be quite a task to be dealt with forks and knives. Personally for me, eating with my hands keeps the culture alive in a small way. When we share a meal with loved ones, we create a beautiful environment of love, peace, togetherness and mindfulness.