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Food, Taste and Their Association With Religion

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From 28th march Hindu festival Navratri is beginning and it will be celebrated through 9 days across India. Navratri means nine nights and the festival is celebrated four times in a year (Although two are most significant). The two navratri falling in the month of March-April and September-october are celebrated with more pomp and show. There are different ways to celebrate this festival and it depends on the region where this festival is being celebrated in India. The navratri festival celebrated in the month of March-April co-insides with the Hindu New Year Calendar. In Maharashrta the festival is Celebrated as Gudi Padwa. Now we have discussed the significance of Navratri but do you know why the festival of Navratri is celebrated? It is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Durga(Durga is form of Hindu goddess  and considered as the warrior goddess). One would be surprised to know that Hindus worship god in female form and it is the major difference between Hinduism and any other religion of the world. Worshiping god in female form is is one of the many unknown facts about Hindu Religion. Most of the religions in the world are central to one figure but in case of Hinduism one can pray to any god depending upon his wish. The special thing about Navratri is that every day one different form of Goddess Durga is worshiped. In Hinduism each god is designated for one task like Lord Indra is for Rain, Goddess Saraswati is for Knowledge similarly Goddess Durga is for Strength and Power.

A tradition Hindu food used during Navratri Festival

During the nine days of Navratri Hindus avoid non-vegetarian food and rely on veg foods. During the nine days of Navratri the prices of chicken and mutton falls sharply and the sector goes in a sleep mode. Even eggs are avoided by Hindus during this period. Traditional Hindu family which strictly follow the philosophy of Hinduism (especially Vaishnavism Sect of Hinduism) even goes one step further and avoid Onion and Garlic in their food. I remember one special instance when one of my friend asked one question related to type of food eaten during the Navratri Festival. He asked why to avoid Onion and Garlic ? Since they are not non-veg food then why people avoid the consumption of Onion and Garlic? His question was valid and this is confusion among many Hindus as why we avoid even Onion and Garlic. To his question I explained him that in Hinduism we classify food into three main category. They are Sattvic Food, Rajsi Food And Tamsik Food. Now the onion and Garlic are categorized into Tamsic food. These food categorization is done one the basis of quality that the food possess.  A Sattvic food is derived from Sattvic quality which leads to Salvation, a Rajsi food is similar to Rajsi quality in which the body will continue to follow the cycle of birth and death and a Tamsic food is derived from Tams Quality in which the soul will get birth in a lower form of life. Therefor Hindus avoid the food which has Tamas quality as it will deviate the path of Salvation. There has been debate among many community that why to restrict person from eating the food he/she wants to eat. Many people give the example of Navratra festival but it is to be noted that Hinduism doesn’t force anyone to follow the diet instead it “recommends”. There is huge difference between recommendation and force. I have known many of my friends who prefer to eat Non-Vegetarian food during Navratra festival as the prices fell sharply.  Even I belong form Hindu Brahman Family but my parents never forced me to follow any specific tradition instead all they said was I should follow it. But it was left on my own will.

Tradition food eaten in Hindu Family. Most of Hindu in India prefer Vegetarian food as their primary food.

Till now we have focused our discussion only on one festival associated with Hinduism. In Hindu religion Cow is considered as sacred and it is one of the holiest symbol of Hinduism. Eating beef is also considered as menial in Hinduism as most of Hindus consider cow as their mother. There has been widespread protest and Slaughtering of cow is banned in almost 20 states of India. Similarly in Islam eating pork is considered as Haram (meaning against the principal of Islam) but I have read that most of the Islamic countries server Pork and there are many Muslims who regularly eat pork. Even many tourists visiting Islamic Countries prefer pork and to cater the demand pork is cooked in Islamic countries. These facts clear indicates that human being have created rules and regulations depending on their own comfort and they forget to acknowledge the choices of other. One of my college junior follow Islam and during conversation with him he told me that he don’t eat non-veg, First I was surprised as I have hardly known any Muslim who doesn’t eat non-veg food. He even told me that his family puts a lot of pressure on him to eat non-veg food and even his relative say that he is not true Muslim. My answer to all those people who judge people on the basis of what they eat is “stop assuming things, let the person decide what he wants to eat and what he wants to avoid. We all have freedom to express yourself but we should not poke our noes into the freedom of others.

Thank you all for reading my first article. I will be coming up with more articles related to society and Human life. Till then be safe and keep reading.