Food and Culture in Hindu India

By: Kyle Gambeski

Backround of Food in Hindu India

  • Beef is strictly forbidden; cow is considered Mother in Hinduism.
  • Pork is a strictly forbidden food in Hinduism.
  • Food contains energy-like sound waves that can be absorbed by the person eating them.
  • According to the Hindu religion, violence or pain inflicted on another living thing rebounds on you (karma).
  • To avoid causing pain to another living thing, vegetarianism is advocated, but not compulsory.
  • Prohibited animal products may be different from one area to another; for example, duck or crab may be forbidden in one location and not in another.
  • Alcohol, onions, garlic, and red-colored foods such as red lentils and tomatoes are prohibited.
  • Meat is not always forbidden in the Laws of Manu.
  • Fasting depends on a person's caste and the occasion. Serving food to the poor and the needy or a beggar is good karma. Food is associated with religious activity and is still offered to God during some of the religious ceremonies. On specific days, food is offered to departed souls. Many Hindu temples distribute foods to visiting devotees.

Food Rituals

Several rituals are associated with food in Hindu tradition. A child's first solid food is celebrated as a samskara, or rite, known as annaprasana. The funeral rites involve serving food and offering food to the departed soul for his journey to the ancestral world. Hindus practice some rituals before eating. They include:

  • Cleaning the place where the food will be eaten

  • Sprinkling of water around the food, accompanied by some mantras or prayers

  • Making an offering of the food, then offering five vital breaths (pranas).

  • Vegetarianism

  • Ethical: They have read about or personally experienced what goes on daily at any one of the thousands of slaughterhouses around the world, where animals suffer forced confinement and violent death.

  • Religious: Major paths of Hinduism hold up vegetarianism as an ethical and religious ideal. There are three reasons for the view. The principle of nonviolence, or ahimsa, is applied to animals; the intention to offer only “pure” vegetarian food and then to receive it back as Prasad; and nonvegetarian food is detrimental to the mind and spiritual development.

  • Economical: An economical vegetarian is someone who practices vegetarianism on the belief that the consumption of meat is economically unsound and has concerning heath issues and stopping world starvation

  • Work Cited

    "Food in Hinduism - Hinduism." Netplaces. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.

    "Food in India (Religious influences [Hindu] on food, North Indian food,South Indian food, ." N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.