In India, eating with hands is a tradition that is deeply rooted in their culture. Indian people definitely set aside all types of cutlery and use just their hands when eating a delicious Indian meal. For centuries, while many people in India have been eating with hands, how many of us have considered if there may be deeper meanings for this cultural practice?
According to Ayurvedic tradition, our hands are said to hold a certain power. The Ayurvedic texts teach that people’s hands are in sync with five elements of nature and each of the fingers is an extension of one of the five elements.
- The thumb is agni fire.
- The forefinger is vayu air.
- The middle finger is Akash, ether.
- The ring finger is prithvi, earth.
- The little finger is jal, water.
The tradition of eating food is originated from mudra practice.
Mudra practice can be seen in many spiritual disciplines in eastern traditions. Mudras are used during certain mediation practices and are also used in various classical forms of dance in India like Bharatnatyam, Odissi, and Kathak.
Ayurveda believes hands are the most precious organ of action.
The interaction of the fingers with the food and people’s lips stimulates the five elements and invites Agni to release digestive juices in the stomach. ” Eating with your hands can help improve digestion. Your hands become an extension of the digestive system, which makes people becomes more conscious of the tastes, textures, and smells of the foods they are eating, which all adds to the pleasure of eating,” said an article in Ayurhealth.
Fingertips help in the external transformation of food before it goes inside
“Eating with your fingers helps you to judge the temperature of the morsel and rules out the possibility of an ulcer or a scalded tongue. Sitting on the floor and eating rather than a dining table is recommended because the repeated bending of the spine improves blood circulation and digestion,” explained the article.
Mother and grandmother in Indian homes usually use their hands and fingers to measure the quantity of masala to be added to food. As each handful is tailored to provide a suitable amount for the own body.
“The five fingers also represents taste like sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. Therefore even if you are a newbie to the practice of eating with your hands, do make an attempt,” said the article.