Indians do attach some emotional value to food, be it while preparing it or even relishing it. Most of us try to have at least one meal together with our family. And there is something that sets us apart from the Western culture, our habit to eat with our hands. While the westerners make use of cutlery while eating, we somehow do not get the perfect taste of our food if we do not use our hands. But there is more than just an imaginary belief but scientific benefits attached to this eating with hands habit.

Eating with hands etiquette has emerged from Ayurvedic teachings. The Vedic people had a reasoning that our bodies are in sync with the elements of nature. In fact, each of our finger is said to have some relation to the five elements of nature:

  • The thumb denotes space.
  • Through the forefinger comes air.
  • From the mid-finger comes fire.
  • The ring finger denotes water.
  • The pinky finger denotes earth.

So, the overall idea of eating with hands is, when all the fingers come together while eating, you create a physical and spiritual connection with what you are eating. Plus we do consider it as a sign of respect when one eats their food with hands.

Believe it or not, but it is also said that when you use your fingers, the nerve endings send a message that you are about to eat. This, in turn, helps to smooth the digestion process by releasing digestive juices and enzymes. Eating with hands is also a lot to do with the food culture followed in our diverse nation.

In South India, food is specially served on a banana leaf. And would you find it very comfortable to eat from a banana leaf with the help of a spoon? Although they do eat more of rice, they follow some etiquettes of eating. It is considered ill-mannered if your palm gets stained while you are eating.

Eating with hands is a muscle exercise which helps is said to increase blood circulation.

Most of our Indian main course food includes rotis or parathas which you technically cannot eat with the help of a spoon.  Another important fact which cannot be ignored is, it is not possible to separate the bones of fish and chicken with the help of spoons. So naturally, it is advisable to use your hands for convenience.

To sum it up, eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit. Many a time even when you visit a restaurant, they always give you spoons but those who are not used to it will prefer using their hands. How many times have you heard them saying, “I do not feel the taste until I eat with my hands?” Well, that is our comfort and we are proud.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 08, 2018 09:58 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website