Eating food with the hands in today’s Western society can sometimes be perceived as being unhygienic, bad mannered and primitive.

However within Indian culture there is an old saying that,

” Eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit”.

In the Big Brother series some years back, an English participant complained about an Indian participants use of her hands during food preparations and her eating habits, “They eat with their hands in India, don’t they? Or is that China? You don’t know where those hands have been.” 

Within many Indian households nowadays, the practice of eating food with the hands has been replaced with the use of cutlery.

Have you ever thought of why previous generations in India ate with the hands? There is a reason for their this. 

The practice of eating with the hands originated within Ayurvedic teachings. The Vedic people knew the power held in the hand.

The ancient native tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from the mudra practice.

Mudras are used during mediation and are prominent within the many classical forms of dance, such as Bharatnatyam\.

Clip_127Our hands and feet are said to be the conduits of the five elements.

The Ayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements. The thumb is agni (fire) (you might have seen children sucking their thumb, this is nature’s way of aiding the digestion in children at an age when they are unable to do an physical activity to aid the digestion), the forefinger is vayu (air), the middle finger is akash (ether – the tiny intercellular spaces in the human body), the ring finger is prithvi (earth) and the little finger is jal (water).

Each finger aids in the transformation of food, before it passes on to internal digestion.

Gathering the fingertips as they touch the food stimulates the five elements and invites Agni to bring forth the digestive juices.

As well as improving digestion the person becomes more conscious of the tastes, textures and smells of the foods they are eating, which all adds to the pleasure of eating.

You may have noticed that elders in the family hardly ever use utensils to measure all the different type of masala, and would instead prefer to use their hands to measure the quantity instead. As each handful is tailored to provide a suitable amount for the own body. Overall there are 6 main documented forms that the hands take when obtaining a measurement a certain type of food ranging from solid food to seeds, and flour.