Now days, there are so many talks, books, seminars and lectures available on the subject of “Living in the present moment”. Many people find it something ‘new’ and fascinating. The presentation of this concept by the new and educated generation, especially the professional speakers and writers is wonderful; however, this concept has always been very prominent in the Eastern cultures. Though, with the western influence, the life styles are rapidly changing in the eastern countries as well but nevertheless, it is still present in the rural and orthodox families of India.
Eat when you eat
There is a big contrast between the eating habits of newer and older generations, especially among those who follow the western styles. Now days, in most families, it’s a tradition to eat together at the end of the day, and talk at the dinner table. Everyone talks about how their day was and what their plans are for the next day. Children are encouraged to participate in discussions and talk about their problems at the dinner table. If anything comes up during the day, and since most people are busy with their own routine all day, they will tell their spouses, parents or children “OK. We’ll talk about this at the dinner”.
Lunch meetings are very common in the corporate world. Presentations are made, business deals are discussed, future plans and decisions are made while eating lunch.
On the other hand, when we were growing up, we were told to eat quietly. Talking was strictly prohibited while eating. Even if we had something important to discuss about, the parents would say “We’ll talk about it later, not while eating.” The only time we could speak was if we needed something, like more roti or subzi etc.
It was a common scene in almost every home where mothers would make fresh Roti (bread) while the family members would sit on the kitchen floor next to her and the mothers made sure that everyone focused just on eating and enjoying the food. In lager families, since it was difficult to provide fresh roti to everyone that fast, she would feed them in separate groups; two, three or four at a time. Then either grandmother, sister or someone else would take over the cooking to make fresh rotis for her. Traditionally, it was more important to eat quietly and to concentrate on eating - and for mothers to feed fresh rotis to everyone - than everyone sitting together to eat.
If anyone talked or questioned this tradition, then simply an old and famous Sanskrit mantra was recited in reply “Annam Devo Bhavah”, meaning food is the life giver, provider of life energy and one must respect it like god and pay attention to it when eating.
“If you do not pay attention to your food, then the food is not going to pay attention to your needs and provide you what it is supposed to”, they would add.
I am sure whoever started this tradition must have known the reason behind it but obviously, the simple older generation could not explain it in more scientific and psychological way like the newer and educated generation does. And who is going to listen these days to “Annam Devo Bhavah” and ‘respect your food’?
So, though it’s the same old concept, the new psychological approach, the attractive presentations and logics appeal to everyone. One is willing to accept and follow an ideal if he is convinced with its logic. The older generations followed it simply for the respect of old cultural traditions and now people need reason and logic.
But regardless of the reason, the outcome depends upon the action. Ironically, because it’s a new trend of the ‘new age’, it’s a new fashion these days to talk about “living and being in the present moment” over the ‘lunch breaks’ and at dinner tables; while eating their food.
And the wise man said:
“Eat, when you eat, and talk when you talk”