“Can you arrange a table and chair for me?”, I asked Hiya when I saw the arrangement for lunch was made on the ground. Although there were mats but I feel very uncomfortable sitting on ground due to lack of practice. Secondly, it badly affects the aristocracy that I maintained throughout my life. Either live like a ‘Saheb’ otherwise you are not considered as a humanbeing is my belief. But unfortunately my kids do not believe in that. I went to Hiya’s home first time after her marriage to stay for couple of days. I see my little princess transformed to a responsible homemaker. Although I am happy to see her managing her house with great care and responsibility but I do not like some practices what she has introduced at her home. I did not feel like saying anything to her because it is her house and I should not interfere.
My Jamai (Son-in-law) brought one wooden chair and table. My granddaughter cleaned the table top by wiping it with water. Then Hiya served food in a plate and many small containers for various types of side dishes. Her Husband and kids sat on the ground, Hiya has put banana leafs for each as we used to have during feasts in my childhood. This practice was stopped when we became modern and preferred buffet system, where we can take our own food. I started following buffet system at home too. That gives everyone so much of freedom. Hiya served food to all of them. I saw, nobody started eating. I restricted myself too as my Jamai has not started. Then I found them doing some activities with water and food. They also chanted some Mantras. I recalled these rituals taught to me during my thread ceremony (Bratopanayana). which I stopped practicing once I studied science. I understood that these rituals of dark age which should not be followed by educated and intelligent people like me. But my Jamai is a scientist and Hiya is a software engineer, so I could not understand why these educated people practicing these uneducated people’s practices. I did not express anything. They too did not speak while having food. Only sign language to ask for more food. But one thing I can not deny irrespective of which mood I was in, Hiya cooks very tasty food. There are so many new dishes she prepared which I never had in my life.
After lunch, I went and sat on the verandah. Entire family came to give me company. We were doing formal conversations. I could not resist and asked to my Jamai, “You are a scientist. You must have reasoning for everything that you do. Can you please explain me the reason behind doing all those funny rituals while having food? You must not follow anything blindly.”. My Jamai and Hiya both smiled and Hiya started explaining.”Baba, Let me explain this to you. As you used to explain me everything when I was a kid, I would like to take this opportunity to explain you.
As you have worked in software industry, I will give you the example of a software project. For a successful completion of project, you need various departments to work together as well as excel in their assigned jobs. resources are well utilized, you are aware of every member’s performance and they are aware of what they need to achieve. So awareness in both directions is very much required for a smooth functioning of the project.
Having food is like accomplishing a successful project.
First of all, it is very important to understand that our body needs food. Like breathing, drinking water, rest/sleep is important, food is also one extremely important need of our body. Food is needed for survival.
Our body does many activities and the most vital activities are:
Prana — the principal breath
Apana — responsible for excretory activity
Samana — responsible for digestive activity
Vyana — responsible for circulatory activity
Udana — respiratory activity
These can be mapped to five elements. Air, earth, fire, water and space respectively.
For smooth functioning of these activities, we need to ensure we provide resources to each of these activities. All these are equally important and must function well for a healthy body.
Timely and nutritious Food is the only way to provide resources to the above activities.
It is also important that we remain aware about the above while having food. Like, if you want to get the best output from employees then you must recognize them well and treat him with respect to get the work done, similarly, you must recognize and respect these activities of your body. This has been proven since couple of thousand years that this works. Your Jamai (Son-in-law’s) is doing research on the same to prove this using new scientific methods.
So, we circumambulate our food with a sprinkling of water. This means we are aware that we are having food. We utter a mantra which means, “O Food! You are True. I encircle you with divine righteousness’. This is the step to respect the food first. Like you ensure your team knows how important the project is for the team.
Then we offer food to all the above five vital breaths. When we eat, we nourish our bodies. Food is therefore essential for bodily sustenance. We pay homage to their life-giving power by virtue of their performing the bodily activities that are crucial to our survival. In this way, this ritual recognizes that not only is food important to survival, but the very bodily functions that we take for granted are essential, and we owe all of this to the Supreme power, who sits as the superintending power behind all bodily activity.
While offering each of these vital breaths, we offer in various mudras and take deep breath. This is to ensure we activate that specific vital breath or activity.
You know the importance of sitting on ground in padmasana has many benefits.
Not speaking while eating helps not to disturb the above vital activities.
I hope I explained you everything that you saw we performed which you were not happy about” and all of them smiling looking at me ‘the old man’.
I had nothing to say here. When scientists of this age are so old fashioned, what can I say. I used to think that they will come up with a capsule which will make sure that people do not feel hungry and get more time to work. But this generation is spending so much time for food. Hiya left job because she wanted to cook herself for her family because she thinks who cooks and in what mood she cooks also vital for proper nutrition.
They stopped using packed/frozen foods because she enjoys the art of preparing food. She has come up with so many nice recipes by researching on the taste, flavor and nutritional values.
I enjoyed rest of my stay playing with kids and enjoying the homemade food.
– Stray Dog