Food in Mythology - stories by our ancestors
Remember those grandma stories of mythology which our dadi/nani used to tell us? We used to love listening to those stories and our imagination grew with no bounds.
All these stories are also linked to our festivals. Over 50 varieties of festivals are celebrated in India among different cultures. Food plays an integral part in Indian mythology, where a part of the ritual involves offering food to the specific deity. Our ancestors used to have a health related approach in the use of many herbs/foods, explained using various stories
Lord Ganesha with acidity problems
Analasura, a demon, was tormenting the Devas (gods). The gods went to Lord Ganapathi for help. Lord Ganesha became angry and just swallowed Analasura. Analasura produced fire while in the stomach of the lord who felt his stomach and body burning terribly.
The lord became so restless that he had to run and jump and could not be quiet. He was offered 21 blades of Durva grass. Immediately the lord got relief from the burning sensation and the Analasura was digested by the lord. From that time the devotees started offering Durva (doob) grass in their worship of the Lord Ganapathi.
Modern interpretation: Ganesh Chaturthi is synonymous with modaks, ladoos and many other delicacies. Eating a huge feast puts a lot of stress on digestion. Hence consuming durva grass tea/kada can help to digest, prevent acidity and gastric issues.
Sanjeevani Booti - a feat by lord Hanuman
This story is well known about Lord Hanuman carrying an entire mountain since he could not identify the herb required to revive Lord Lakshman. This famous herb, called Sanjeevani Booti, available on the hills of himalayas has gained lots of popularity.
According to Ayurveda, Sanjeevani is a mix of three herbs. It has been found to cure many diseases from Asthma to diabetes to gastric problems.
Attachment of Lord Shiva to Bael tree
According to ancient Hindu scriptures, the Bel tree emerged from the sweat drops of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife. The Skanda Purana mentions that sweat droplets from the Goddess’ forehead fell on the Mandrachal mountain and a tree emerged. She named the tree Bilva and it is believed that she resides in all forms, in the tree. Hence Bael leaves are used for worshipping Lord Shiva.
Benefits - Ayurveda uses the leaves for a number of health benefits. They are known to relieve diarrhoea ,dysentery, constipation, peptic ulcer and respiratory infections.They are anti diabetic, anti microbial, anti inflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic etc.
The great mythological stories and their significance is relevant even today. Why we consume neem flowers during new year to the reason for consuming thandai during holi.
Even science supports some of our religious customs and traditions.
If we have food for our body then these stories are the food for our soul!
- Rohini Prasad