by Swetangini Sahu
With the modernisation of Indian society, people gravitated to adopt the western culture. The Indian practices which were followed for centuries got dumped. But somehow these practices are now backed by science and research and are considered to be scientifically proven.
The irony is that to completely accept our age-old practices we needed the approval of the west. However, we have realised the worth and returned to them. The following are a few practices and the reasons why they have been used in Indian households for centuries:
What is the benefit of turmeric other than giving a yellow tint?
The benefit of turmeric is more than just giving a yellow tint: Indian food is incomplete without the yellowish colour obtained from turmeric. Turmeric has an active compound called curcumin which has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is also known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Studies have shown that it can help prevent cancer, heart diseases, obesity, arthritis etc. The absorption of Curcumin gets enhanced by Piperine found in Black Pepper.
Why do Indians use a lot of spices?
Dose of Spices: Indian delicacies like Biryani are highly rich in their flavours. This is usually due to the use of a bunch of spices like Cinnamon, Cardamon, Cloves, Black pepper, Cumin, Coriander, Nutmeg, etc which give aroma, flavour and health benefits like immunity. The combination of herbs and spices has antibacterial properties, prevent the food from spoilage and boosts digestive health
What benefit does ghee offer?
Ghee for Immunity: Indian households use Ghee for spiritual, medicinal and nutritional perspectives. When consumed in moderation, it is a good source of Vitamins like A, D, E and K, antioxidants and healthy fats. In traditional Ayurveda, Ghee was used for topical application on burns and wounds due to the presence of an anti-inflammatory substance, butyrate.
Why use cast-iron and mitti/clay pots and utensils?
Use of cast-iron and mitti/clay pots and utensils - The secret behind the delicious Indian food prepared by our grannies somehow lies in the secret of using traditional utensils. Cast iron utensils are made of dense iron which gets transferred in small amounts to the food while cooking. This is quite a good source of iron for anemic and vegetarians.
Also, The use of Earthen pots commonly called "Handi" has made a comeback due to its multiple benefits like diminished oil usage, maintaining the pH and nutritive value of food, and earthy aroma.
Why are dried bay leaves burnt at homes & places of worship?
Dried bay leaves were used from a spiritual and medicinal viewpoint in our tradition. Bay leaves are burned in homes and worship places as a spiritual ritual which is considered to be beneficial for both the body and mind. The smoke contains linalool which relieves stress and fatigue by calming the mind. Also, it is known for its pest and bug repellent properties. Bay leaves are used in cooking to enhance the flavour and aroma.
What are the benefits of Neem?
All parts of the Neem tree ie its leaves, fruit/seed, and bark deliver beneficial purposes. It is useful for the prevention and treatment of the majority of skin and digestive diseases. It contains several bioactive constituents like Nimbin, Nimbidin, Nimbolide, and limonoids which contribute to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Besides this, neem seed oil acts as a pesticide.
What benefit do we get from eating pickles?
Pickles are an essential part of any Indian meal. Pickle has hidden benefits due to the fermentation of the vegetables used. It is a rich source of Vitamin K, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium. It also maintains the gut microbiota.
Why go for a 'Champi'?
Champi is an Indian practise of massaging the head with any oil. It provides moisture to the hair and scalp. Champi promotes brain oxygenation and helps to prevent anxiety and depression. It stimulates lymphatic drainage and cleanses the body.
Why are soapnuts used?
Soapnuts (Reetha) contain a high concentration of saponin, which when combined with water produces lather. Its versatility, sustainability, and biodegradability suggest that it could be used in place of detergent/soaps to help the environment. It can be used to wash your hair, laundry, and skin.
Why remove shoes/chappals outside before entering our homes?
Since it keeps dangerous contaminants from entering the home and causing illness, this practise has long been a part of Indian tradition.
Additionally, it stops mud, dust, and dirt from entering the house, which saves time when cleaning the floor.