why do Indians eat with their hands

  • on April 24, 2015
why do Indians eat with their hands

Well, it may seem un-comprehendible for a European or American, but we in India are used to eat with our hands. You may find dining tables without a crowd of cutlery only in our region. From region I mean the old Indian sub-continent or the SAARC region including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan.

People may have different responses to this question but it remains a question of interest for social scientists that why do people in this region eat with their bare hands.

While it may seem uncultured, weird and un-hygienic to a European, for us it is more sanitary, utilitarian, aesthetic and above all enjoyable.

The answer lies in heterogeneity of the region.  The region remained under Muslim rules and British Raj control for centuries. For Muslims eating with their hands is following the Sunnah of their beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Muslims particularly in India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan prefer to eat with their hands. This custom or dining etiquettes is changing rapidly in the region though and we find cutlery on dining tables in Muslim households.

For Hindus, it is more customary than religious. Same is the case with other religions in the region. People do eat with their hands. But are we the only who eat with their hands?

To me everybody eats with hands, you might have seen people rushing to their offices in the morning having a snack in their hands in Europe and America. Have you not eaten an apple with your bare hands? If your answer is NO, you are not from planet earth.

We love eating with our hands. Interestingly we do not find any suitable answer to the question why we eat with our hands. It could be lack of resources in the region, it could be due to Muslim rule in the region, and it also could be due to the reason that we think our hands are cleaner than those forks, knives and spoons that may pass from several mouths and hands during their life time.

Hands are the most immediate tool to follow brain instructions. Have you ever experienced how rich is the link between hands and brain. You can feel the food, even taste it by your hands. Have you ever imagined that in a very dark room, it is only your hands that you use as your eyes by touching objects around you?

No matter what other cultures think of us, we Indians love to eat with our hands.

Article Categories:
Indian Food

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