Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Ritual of Eating

After a very long time, I had the good fortune this morning of eating phulkas directly off the fire.  Being a foodie at heart, but a healthy eater by practice, I normally avoid using butter or ghee.  But the piping hot phulkas brought back of those eaten in my childhood with home made ghee on it.  A foodie cannot resist such temptations, but making a concession to healthy eating, I liberally smeared two phulkas with Nutralite (manufacturers are you listening?  You could consider giving me a small percentage off your sales for voluntarily promoting your product!!!!!) and ate it with piping hot mixed vegetable gravy (cauliflower, capsicum, potato, peas, carrot, beans and soya paneer).

To say my soul was touched would be an understatement of the day.  "Annadaata sukhi bhava" automatically sprung to mind.  It was a sudden reminder of the original meaning and sentiment behind these seemingly simple Sanskrit phrase which is so loaded with gratitude and fulfillment.  When I said it today, it came from the bottom of the heart and I really understood not only the literal meaning, but also the full contentment and joy that brings out the blessing for the one provides us food.

Talking of which I was also reminded of a Marathi prayer which we are taught to say before every meal in childhood.  It goes:

Vadani kawal gheta naam ghya Srihariche
Sahaj hawan hote naam gheta phukache
Jeevan kari jivitva anna he poornabrahma
Udarbharan nohe janije yadnya karma

This is a prayer which reminds you to remember the Lord when taking every morsel of food. It says, taking the name of the Lord while eating makes eating an act of offering or a "havan".  Anna (or food) is the complete God principle which bestows life on the living.  Remember eating is not just an act of filling your stomach, it is a yagnya karma.

If we were only to remember this everyday, it would help us to respect our stomachs and bodies and offer good, nutritious and healthy food instead of just overloading and stuffing ourselves silly.

It reminds one to sit quietly in one place in a happy frame of mind with family and/or friends and eat every morsel of food with gratitude to the ones who helped put this food on your plate and with consideration for the body which needs it as fuel.  Treat your stomach with due respect, not as a dumping ground.  Treat the food which you get with the same respect.  Don't waste food.  There are many who are not so fortunate as you.

Let us first thank God for having given us rains that helped the crops, the means to buy our food, the farmer who sowed the seed and harvested the crop, the bread winner who earned us the food and the one who toils in the kitchen to put the food in edible form on the table.