It’s healthier, according to Ayurveda
While eating food with one’s hands is often looked upon as unhygienic, bad mannered and primitive, it is in fact quite the contrary. In Indian culture there is a saying that, “eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit”.
Have you ever thought of why previous generations in India ate with the hands? Well, it’s because the practice of eating with hands originated within Ayurvedic teachings. People living in the Vedic times clearly understood the power held in the hand.
The ancient native tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from the mudra practice, which is prevalent in many aspects within Hinduism. Mudras are used during mediation and are very prominent within the many classical forms of dance, such as Bharatnatyam.
The hands are considered the most precious organ of action. This is linked to the Vedic prayer of
“Karagre vasate Laksmih karamule Sarasvati Karamadhye tu Govindah prabhate karadarsanam” meaning “on the tip of your fingers is Goddess Lakshmi, on the base of your fingers is Goddess Saraswati; in the middle of your fingers is Lord Govinda. The prayer is recited whilst looking at the palms.
The Ayurvedic texts also teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements. Through the thumb comes space; through the forefinger, air; through the mid-finger, fire; through the ring finger, water and through the little finger it is earth
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.
Why should one eat with one’s hands? Eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit.