Do Indians eat with their hands?

In this article we are going to answer: do Indians eat with their hands, why do Indians eat on the floor, what is Ayurveda, how is the meal structure in India, and which countries eat food with their hands. 

Do Indians eat with their hands?

Yes, Indians eat with their hands. Eating with their hands is a practice that has been used for centuries because there is a belief that eating is a sensual activity in which touch is part of the experience together with other things such as:

  • The taste
  • The aroma of the food
  • The presentation

Fingers are also an important tool to tell how hot or cold the food is. Some important characteristics of Indian food include

  • Rice is picked up with the thumb
  • Bread helps to scoop the desired amount of food
  • When larger foods are served, eating with one hand is still acceptable
  • When eating vegetarian and non-vegetarians the rule is to not mix together the food
  • When eating at home, Indians normally eat on the floor. 
  • They normally do it just with one hand and the other stays clean.
  • Food that has been contaminated with saliva is considered Uchchhishta.
  • In some places, you should eat all that you serve. 
  • It is a norm to wash your hands after they finish eating. 

Why do Indians eat on the floor?

Indians eat according to Ayurveda. Sitting on the floor when eating has been scientifically proven that helps in digestion. Indians sit on the floor in a posture known as sukhasana or padmasana and this posture helps with relaxation and helps with digestion. 

Also, eating on the floor with this posture improves circulation and helps you relax your mind. According to Ayurveda, when eating, it is very important to keep a calm mind and relax the body so that digestion can be made properly. 

What is Ayurveda? 

Ayurveda is a type of holistic medicine system that was developed hundreds of years ago in India. Ayurveda is based on the belief that health depends on a good balance between 

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Spirit

According to Ayurveda, every one of us is made from 5 elements including space, air, fire water, and earth. These elements combine to create doshas or the 3 life forces or energies that give us health. 

We all have a mix of 3 doshas but every person has a stronger dosha. Diseases are because of an imbalance in doshas. 

Vata Dosha

It controls basic functions of the body such as the brain, breathing, blood flow, heart functions, and the large intestine and its functions. Vata dosha can be disrupted by grief, fear, not sleeping well, or eating before time. 

The imbalance of Vata Dosha can lead to diseases such as anxiety, asthma, heart disease, skin problems, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Pitta Dosha

It controls the energy of digestion, metabolism of food, and hormones linked to appetite and hunger. It can be disrupted by eating too spicy food, heat, or spending too much time in the sun. 

The imbalance of Pitta Dosha can lead to diseases such as Crohn’s disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and infections. 

Kapha Dosha

It controls muscle functions, body strength, stability, weight, and immune function. It can be disrupted by sleeping during the day, sweet foods, or ingesting too much salt or water. 

The imbalance of Kapha Dosha can lead to breathing disorders, cancer, diabetes, nausea, and obesity. 

How is meal structure in India?

Indians’ meals are influenced by Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, there is a structure for meals throughout the day that includes:

  • Breakfast moderately
  • Lunch well 
  • Eat dinner very sparingly 

The day is divided into 4 hours of dayparts in which each daypart is connected to the slow rise, peaking, and fall of the dosha in our body. 

Dosha depends on the movement of the sun which is why the heaviest meals should be lunch. Dinner should be light, low in carbohydrates, and high in protein to keep your digestive system working correctly. 

Follow this link for a beginner’s guide to Ayurvedic Cooking. 

Which countries eat food with their hands?

Even if eating with cutlery is a must in Western culture, eating with their hands is very common in some countries such as large parts of the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and South America. 

Conclusion

This article answered do Indians eat with their hands, why Indians eat on the floor, what is Ayurveda, how is the meal structure in India, and which countries eat food with their hands. 

Citation 

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/ayurveda

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