Eating food with the hands
Eating food with the hands in today’s Western society can sometimes be perceived as being unhygienic, bad mannered and primitive. However within Indian culture there is an old saying that, 'eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit'. The vedic wisdom pours light to this fact and states that this could only give you mindfull eating experience.
The ancient native tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from the mudra practice, which is prevalent in many aspects within Hinduism. Mudras are used during mediation and are very prominent within the many classical forms of dance, such as Bharatnatyam.
As per vedic wisdom, our hands and feet are said to be the conduits of the five elements. The Ayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements. The thumb is agni (fire) -- you might have seen children sucking their thumb, this is nature's way of aiding the digestion at an age when they are unable to chew; the forefinger is vayu (air), the middle finger is akash (ether -- the tiny intercellular spaces in the human body), the ring finger is prithvi (earth) and the little finger is jal (water).
Digestion begins while handling the food. All of your senses are activated and your attention is brought to the now of the moment. Gathering the fingertips as they touch the food stimulates the five elements and invites Agni to bring forth the digestive juices. As well as improving digestion the person becomes more conscious of the tastes, textures and smells of the foods they are eating, which all adds to the pleasure of eating.
This is a prime example of how many things within Indian culture may seem weird and unusual at first glance, but once a closer look is taken it is surprising, but a vast amount of knowledge is revealed.