Monday, February 20, 2006

The Practice of Indians Eating With Their Hands

"Why do Indians eat with their hands?" Westerners often have this question for those of South Asian descent. They feel that it is uncultured and uncivilized for people to eat with their bare hands. The people of the West have their forks, spoons, and knives, while the East Asians have their chopsticks. They wonder why, even in this day and age, Indians insist on eating with their hands.

Ask any Indian, and he will say that in order to completely enjoy Indian food, it must be eaten with one's fingers. Most Indians maintain that eating food with the hands is far easier than eating with cutlery no matter how habituated one may be to using forks, spoons, or knives. In defense of the practice of eating with the fingers it may be said that this leads to a certain minimum level of hygiene. It forces people to wash their hands before and after meals.

Moreover, many Indian foods such as naan or roti (types of flat bread) are best eaten in this way. What Indians do is that they break the bread, dip it in one of the condiments -- curry or chutney -- before eating it. Rice is customarily blended with curries so that each mouthful is unique. One point to note is that in the past, meals were served on banana leaves. Using forks or knives to blend curry and rice on banana leaves would have only resulted in shredding the leaves. Eating with the fingers was definitely a better bet in those days!

One thing that should be noted is that Indians eat only with the right hand. The left hand is considered unclean, and eating with it is frowned upon. However, while serving food or while passing a dish to someone else, it is the left hand that should be used.

Despite the basic rules of eating being the same, a number of differences arise on moving from one region to another. For instance, in northern India it is impolite to dirty more than the first two segments of the fingers. Since Northerners eat a lot of breads and generally have drier curries, this does not pose too much difficulty. However, in the South, where people eat a lot more rice and enjoy soupy curries, it can get somewhat messier.

There is a philosophy behind this Indian practice of eating with the fingers. In India, eating is perceived as being a sensual activity. The idea is that one should be able to enjoy the process of eating with as many of the senses as possible – taste, smell, sight, and touch. Ask any Indian, and he will say that Indian food tastes best when eaten with the fingers.

89 comments:

Colaapple said...

great post.

whenever someone asks me if i eat with my hands, i say: yeah. don't you? or do you eat with your feet?

its true south asian food is all about everything blending together and it just tastes 100xs better if eaten using your fingers.

It doesn't mean playing with your food however, and I always laugh depictions of eating with fingers in hollywood films; my two favorites are Harrison Ford in the Sabrina remake (sort of throws it into his mouth) and Jennifer Anniston's technique in Along Came Polly.

(I have an aunt who always says "why eat rice with a fork when nature gave you one?!" and holds up her hands.)

Tara Shetty said...

Cool. Incidentally you commented on my post almost as soon as I posted it. Thanks for that. I do not have an aunt who has a fork instead of a hand (kidding, kidding), but I enjoy eating with my hands.

LaughingEyes said...

..pass me those potatoes...and hold the fork !

Tara Shetty said...

Hi laughing eyes, read your blog "musings." You need to post more often, but who I am *I* to say that :)

Chindu said...

Is funny, the perceptions of that. But most westerners, I have found, once you explain it, are more than keen to try it. They are a bit scared, and do get food all over themselves, but quite a lot of them do give it a try. :-)

Chindu said...

On the same note, I must add that western food tastes better when eaten with cutlery -- just as Indian tastes better when eaten with hands! Agree?

Tara Shetty said...

Hmmm, never thought about that. Probably, foods of all culture evolve in a way that they taste "right' using the implements that are native to that culture.

Sourav said...

Interesting post.

I just wanted to add a counter-opinion to a westerner's idea of eating with your hands being "uncivlized".

Civilization is determined by your ideas and thought-process. It is not merely detachment from nature. A poor person on the street wearing rags could well be more "civilized" than a well-dressed person with the most backward mindset. It is this very mentality that is leading most westerners to synthetic fat-free food, and diet pills.

Anonymous said...

It really helped me with my
indian food project,
Thanks!

Roshan said...

Yes, Food is a sensual experience and it is a pity to see some Indians giving that up to look "civilized"

Krishna said...

(I have an aunt who always says "why eat rice with a fork when nature gave you one?!" and holds up her hands.)

I heard a similar story, an Indian guy says to someother guy who was eating sambar rice with a spoon: "God gave you fingers why don't you use them to eat", the other guy replied "God gave me fingers to hold a spoon and eat with it".

The observation regarding eating being a sensual experience is right on. Cutlery doesn't provide the same intimacy with food that fingers provide. If one observes Indians in India eating, they seem to be totally engrossed in eating, unlike in western cultures, talking is discouraged while eating.

One good thing about eating with fork/spoon is that you don't need to wash your hands so, reduces the mess one leaves on the plate & table, or saves you a trip to bathroom.

Anonymous said...

lol, this is a lovely post.

what strikes me as strange is the reaction of most americans when they finally see me eat with my fingers. i've had several people blurt out, "That's so civilized!" like they expect us to mash the food with our hands and play with it like small children!

my parents actually couldn't understand why one would eat with a fork. Even a spoon they understood, but they were like, "but it has holes in it! at least a spoon is solid!"

i like to ask americans, imagine eating tater tots with your fork, or popcorn, or chips and dip...it just doesn't make sense in the culture. how is tearing a paratha and dipping it in curry any different from dipping a chip in salsa?

crazy people! texture! the food is all about the texture!

Anonymous said...

It could also be due to the fact that water is available everywhere and it is not too cold to wash your hand. In cold climes where it is cold warming up water to wash ones hand was probably to much. So most likely we eat with our hands as do many others like Arabs, Turks, Africans etc because we had the luxury of having water available in non frozen form through out the year. I was reading somewhere that the primary instrument of eating in medivial times was the knife and every one was expected to bring their own.

Sunil

Sophia said...

...eating with fingers is fine and it even makes it easy for certain dishes, like naan or chapatis. However I have been married to a South Indian for quite a while and have been observing their table manners. I do not think I would ever be able to handle liquids with my hand like they do sambar and rasam, it is rather disgusting to see the way they mix it with rice using the whole hand, squeezing it in their fist and having it come out between digits...and then those slurpy noises when eating it...I came to a point that I have to find excuses and leave the table. I have had my hubby's family invited to Europe to visit with my folks and they were petrified at the way they ate, not the finger eating, but hand-up-to-elbow style. And this is not just my family. Been to India many times and seen it over and over everywhere. So please guys, get "civilized" :)

Anonymous said...

^^

Piss off or divorce your husband.

Anonymous said...

Here's an Iranian giving a European dunderhead a piece of his mind on the issue:

http://www.iranian.com/HashemHakimi/2002/August/Hands/index.html

Whether some nincompoops like it or not, eating with one's hands is a convention just as 'civilized' as any other.

I am amazed that people who didn't even know how to count properly till the late Middle ages find themselves qualified to preach dining etiquette to those they learnt basic numeracy from. Jokers !

Sophia said...

Fortunately numeracy has nothing to do with etiquette, and there is nothing wrong with one manner of eating or or the other. Anonymous, you are rude. I love the culture of eating with the hands, I was just commenting on some circumstantial case.

Anil said...

Sophia is right on the way South Indians eat- I had a room mate who, by the time he finished his food, he had his chin, elbows and ears spiced up in sambar and curd, no joke. The North Indians always made fun of that, so I am not surprised someone else is saying that.In the North the etiquette is that one should eat just using fingers and no palm or hand. So the itching difference on manners starts in India itself. I know some South Indians laugh at northeners that we do not take showers as often, mainly at ones from HP ur UT, where winters are colder. What to do?
Let's learn to live with differences and not fight.

Hey, anonymous, since when did Iranians invent numbers? :)))wait till a S.Indian tells you that numbers are actually of Tamil origin :)))

Srikanth said...

Anil,

To standardize south indians to your theory seems uneducated on your part. It is true that some south indians, and I am sure even north indians, subscribe to this behavior. But to label them as uncivilized for this !!!!! That's going overboard. Its like saying all the westerners are uncivilized because they use paper instead of water to clean themselves after a dump. Its JUST a practice. To not subscribe to it only alienates from the group that does, but not from civility. Would you say north indians are more uncivilized for their dress habits, or lack of them? Its evolution of humans under different circumstances. To label one in a demeaning way is only an insult to your own intelligence.

My two cents !!!

Srikanth said...

sophia,

If your hubby's dining table manners are of such inconvenience to you, did you try discussing your issue with him? I also think that you are a complete FAKE! In your first post, you came out with all your guns slinging till the ending where you stated you saw it EVERYWHERE in your visits to India. Then, upon confrontation, you reduced the footprint of your experience to a "CIRCUMSTANTIAL CASE".

In my opinion, nothing would make you happy except to see your hubby sit at a different table facing away from you while eating. As for your statement "I love the culture of eating with hands", Please! the readers fortunately are not dumb enough to believe that after your earlier remarks.

looking forward to a reply!!!!

Srikanth said...

And of course, considering my cultural background and upbringing, I do not find any other way of eating as enjoyable as the one involving the use of my own hands.

sabah said...

Great post and good comments. Yeah, it is different culture, different people and different ways. That doesn't make those eating with hands look uncivilised.
My husband on one of his trips to Germany was eating with his hands when he looked up to see a woman staring at him. (He is squirky clean even with his hand eating, you will not find sambar dripping from his elbows- may be you will find me do that sometimes). Ok, so he smiled at the woman to which she asked, "Don't your hands get dirty?". He looked her in the eye and said, "Ma'am, I don't eat dirty food".
Food for thought!

Anonymous said...

Eating by ur hand isnt an uncivilised way,but offcourse ittotally depends whr u r and with whom u r and wht u r eating .I beleieve its remembles very wierd whn some1 eating liquid food like sambar and other liquid food available in south india.I prefer eating by spoon whn m eating any liquid food. For every1 who posted the comments,take a movie of a person who is eating rice by their hands and otherside by spoon or a fork . All hr a very civilized and i think they will get their answer.

Anonymous said...

Hunting with MAN MADE TOOLS
Eating with MAN MADE TOOLS

Eating using your fingers only is PRIMITIVE ANIMALISTIC and quite Disgusting.

Catalyst God said...

To the person who left this message:

"Hunting with MAN MADE TOOLS
Eating with MAN MADE TOOLS

Eating using your fingers only is PRIMITIVE ANIMALISTIC and quite Disgusting."

What do you then call cleaning your butt with paper after taking a dump and going around business as usual in the middle of the day?
That is worse than primitive, its just plain Dirty, even by primitive standards.

Anonymous said...

thank you for ur post!:D Cauze it help on my project after trying to find so many webistes but none is suitable for my project...
So thanks fer ur post XD

Anonymous said...

I have an Indian colleague and listening to him masticate, chewing with the mouth wide open, frankly turns my stomach.

Then comes the glugging down of water. Then the belching starts.

I would gladly see him drop these ways and learn the Western ones, at least while eating in my company.

Catalyst God said...

To the guy/Gal who wrote this:

"I have an Indian colleague and listening to him masticate, chewing with the.........."

Its a good thing the world does not run by your whims and fancies. The way a person eats SHOULD NOT be dictated by people around him, it is supposed to be a personal choice. You have no right to expect anything of others. If you have a problem, go discuss it with the person, not here. what a prick!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for expressing an opinion you don't agree with, Catalyst God.

I don't recall saying that the world should be run according to my "whims and fancies", just that I find this "sensual eating" thing my colleague does to be highly distasteful when it equates to slurping and belching like a pig while in my company.

When I travel I try to be conscious of cultural habit. I suggested that Indians in the West be mindful of the norms here.

You say "the way a person eats SHOULD NOT be dictated by people around him" but sorry, multicultural society stops working if we all think we're immune to what anyone else may think, and I contend that everyone has the right to say something if subjected to something they find unpleasant, especially while living in their own country.

Let me add that no-one in my company is allowed to say anything to the Indian because we have to "respect" his "culture", even though everyone - especially the women - find his ways disgusting according to their own culture, and try to avoid finding themselves at the same table as him.

But you want to call me a "prick" just because I'm not all taken with the quaint ways of our sub-continental cousins?

Who appointed you moderator of this thread anyway?

Catalyst God said...

Nobody appointed me the moderator and neither did I state I was one.

"Let me add that no-one in my company is allowed to say anything to the Indian because we have to "respect" his "culture".

Well, this is what I meant by "I am glad the world does not run to your whims and fancies". It doesn't matter what you think, because there is obviously a law to ensure you respect his ways despite the fact it is to your disliking.


"...thing my colleague does to be highly distasteful when it equates to slurping and belching like a pig while in my company."

Your comment is a mark of disrespect to a person at no fault. Slurping and belching is a natural way of eating in a satisfying manner for all creatures alike. Even Lions and Tigers enjoy their food the same way.

"especially while living in their own country"


Its funny how the west would not allow the middle-east to live to their liking and rather impose their way of life on the Gulf. And they are not even living in the gulf!!!!! Tolerance my friend, tolerance, its not something you can learn overnight, you have to try it, experience its fruits and only then will you understand how a multicultural society/world can really function.

Catalyst God said...


"multicultural society stops working if we all think we're immune to what anyone else may think"


Please put down the crack pipe before you post such self initiated propaganda making it sound like a fact. India is a multicultural society too. Fact is, there is a lot of difference in the way north Indians eat food compared to the South Indians. Yet, we manage to function normally. The Hindus consider the cow holy, yet the muslims in the nation are not barred from killing one even though its a hindu majority country. You need to UNDERSTAND that a multicultural society would be better off with more tolerance as opposed to criticism and withdrawal.

"But you want to call me a "prick" just because I'm not all taken with the quaint ways of our sub-continental cousins? "


Yes, that's the reason I called you a prick. And you just proved my point by writing whatever you did. You chose to use your intolerance for such a small issue to base your statement about the viability of a multicultural society. PLEASE, spare me the drama, doesn't matter how eloquently you choose to define the habits of your colleague, you just need to build REAL tolerance for a fellow human. Remember, its not about being right or wrong, its about being accommodative.

Anonymous said...

"Your comment is a mark of disrespect to a person at no fault"

Correct. Respect has to be earned, and I do not respect the practice of eating like a pig, traditional or not. Nor do I blame my colleague for his upbringing, but he moved to the West and should inform himself as to Western cultural norms.


"Slurping and belching is a natural way of eating in a satisfying manner for all creatures alike..."

Yes, but when I go to the zoo I don't go there to learn how I should eat.


"It doesn't matter what you think, because there is obviously a law to ensure you respect his ways despite the fact it is to your disliking"


It's not a "law" but a PC diktat that kow-tows to the hyper-sensitive. It's to my disliking and to the disliking of all of my colleagues, but I suppose it doesn't matter what they think either (I mean they only live and work here).


"Please put down the crack pipe..."

...says the man who wants to digress into Middle East politics. Look, I was making a point about table manners, the point being that ALL MY COLLEAGUES FIND THE INDIAN'S MANNERS REVOLTING. Maybe you didn't read/understand what I wrote, or maybe you just can't "tolerate" the idea that aspects of your culture can be considered disgusting in the West, but the point is that the individual in question IS tolerated. In fact, he's completely unaware of the reactions of disgust that his animalistic habits provoke, so I'd say that all my colleagues and I are quite "accommodative" of the The Masticator.

The question you fail to answer in your offended rant is that of why he doesn't do his bit and find out a little bit about Western ways. Why not? It seems the kind of tolerance you describe is something of a one-way street, whereby we have to put up with The Belcher but he doesn't have to acknowledge the minimum of social ettiquette in his adopted country.


(try replying without resorting to "prick" / "crack pipe" jibes)

Catalyst God said...

"Yes, but when I go to the zoo I don't go there to learn how I should eat"

I don't understand what your point is here. My point was that you see belching as dirty only because pigs do it. But its when a majestic animal like the Lion/Tiger does it, its seen as acceptable and even a mark of dominance.

Correct. Respect has to be earned, and I do not respect the practice of eating like a pig, traditional or not.

If you read my post carefully, I said you need to be be Tolerant, not respectful.

It's not a "law" but a PC diktat that kow-tows.....

If that's the case, did you try discussing with the person directly, like I mentioned in my first response to your post?

...says the man who wants to digress into Middle East politics.....

A clear example of diversion from the topic at hand. I did not say I disagreed to the politics, I said it was a double standard in this context. Don't try to put words in my mouth.

"tolerate" the idea that aspects of your culture can be considered disgusting

Again, an assumption on your part, a wrong one too. I can see how it can be seen as disgusting, however, it is nothing to be so intolerant about. I know the kind of person you are dealing with at your work. I have seen people brought up in different ways in different cultures. And when they do something outrageous, no matter how disgusting, I believe they should be given slack, and upon the right time, they should be made aware of how whatever they are doing can be misunderstood. Having lived in the US for 4 years, Australia for 2 years, Oman for 1 year, Bahrain for 2 years, and different states of India for 19 years, I know a thing or two about foreign cultures.

Public ranting by degrading foreign cultural practices is no way of solving your issue. Grow up and talk to the guy directly and see what he has to say. I am sure you are capable of putting across your thoughts in a respectful and acceptable fashion to the gentleman in question.

The question you fail to answer in your offended rant is that of why he doesn't do his bit and find out a little bit about Western ways. Why not?...

You have no idea do you, the guy probably does not even know its perceived as disgusting. Its probably his first assignment overseas too. I remember how hard it was for some of my friends/relatives to learn these things when they first landed in this great nation. Please do him a favor and let him know. You have to accept that part of the problem is your unwillingness to discuss it with him.

Catalyst God said...

NOTE: I did not use Prick or Crack pipe in this post. I may have come off rude in the beginning, but in hind-sight, I shouldn't have called you whatever I did, its a public forum and I apologize. I was a jerk for doing that. But I stand by my arguments. I would edit the posts if I could.

Anonymous said...

OK Catalyst God, let's agree to disagree and no hard feelings for the heated language.

I acknowledge my unwillingness to discuss it with him but like I say, office politics makes that kind of discussion off-limits.

Catalyst God said...

Agreed!!

Katherine said...

Today I got to experience this for the first time. I'd never even heard of it before. I just made some Indian friends. I felt like a little child. They said I looked inexperience at it as I was. But it was really cool to experience the culture in this way. I felt so messy! but I think I'd like to try it more often.

Anonymous said...

We Indians do not believe in man made things like forks, knifes,spoons,etc. We believe in the god made things that is our hands.

When the food is prepared using the hands why don't you stupids use them for eating.

Anonymous said...

Do not ask any Indian "Why you eat with your hands" because they will laugh at you not with the mouth but something else.

Anonymous said...

" Do not ask any Indian "Why you eat with your hands" because they will laugh at you not with the mouth but something else."

LOL....!!!

Anonymous said...

no matter where i go on the fucking internet everyone just wants to fight. grow up people. really, i don't give a shit if you don't like the way someone eats, and neither does anyone else. so keep your comments to yourself, rather than trying to start a fight.

Anonymous said...

My Non PC honest opinon is eating with hands none finger food is not pleasant looking and healthy.

I believe We are all genetic cousins from Africa spread out and developed cultures relevant to geograpgy. (So dont get all hyper, I am not racist as I dont believe there is no such thing as race within human race)

I am not Japanese but I appreciate the most Japanese cultural aspects of respect, cleanliness and attention to detail.

Also I don't agree with assumption of eating with hands force you to wash hands. Clean water, or batrooms are not readily available in Indian subcontinent.

Also why would food taste better if you stick your fingers and finger nails in your food and your mounth ?

Lets hope someday all poor countries develop and have same facilities as developed countries.

Catalyst God said...

you dont get it, Indians are totally comfortable with eating using hands. It has nothing to do with development or availability of spoons/forks as you seem to insinuate.

As a person who eats either way, I can tell you that its not about the taste, but more about the satisfaction of doing it that way. You will never know till you try it.

universal said...

In olden times when man eat the hunted animals they used primitive form of knife to cut raw meat and similar fork to pull flesh out.that is also uncivilized in the same plot... Indians are to a larger extend vegetarians, so they didn't need knife and fork..i agree with the table manners and all..while eating with hand one should be careful not to offend the one in opposite side!

Murugavel said...

See all people (Other than Indian) using the spoon, fork and the knifs are used by others only. if you goes to the restaurant you can see the all the spoon and things are used by more than 100 persons. Knowbody know how they are cleaning the things. But the hands is used by him/her self only. The hand is most hygienic than the spoon and all.

Anoop said...

Hand is totally under your control. It doesnt fall down, it doesnt get up to clean your ears.

You are the master of your hands. You are satisfying yourselves that your hands are clean and you are making yourselves a decision that you are going to use your hands to eat your food which goes into your stomach.

If some one wants to believe that some other person will carefully wash the spoons, forks and knifes that is being used by you, it is his choice.

Let him believe that the spoon has been disinfected after it has gone into the mouth of some sundry person who has whatever dignified disease that he possess. It is his choice.

Dinesh said...

I think eating with your hands and eating on a banana leaf is a green way (environmently friendly) of consuming food.
Why? Coz no need to manufacture plates knife fork less factories , no need to wash those utensils with harmful chemicals that go into the sea/river/lake etc in most countries. And the banana leaf is totally biodegradable or could be feed to cows or pigs .

lavanya said...

hi all,
i would like to share few things about the indian way of eating habits. There is always a reason behind all the customs and habits followed by them. Many knows the meaning of what they do and why they do it.
The ancient system of sprinkling water before taking meals, also called achamana, was based on hygiene. The Indian system of taking meals was sitting on the ground, which is based on certain scientific reasons. The people sat crossed-legged. The food was served on a plate made of leaves called pattal or a banana leaf. Eating in a banana leaf is a healthy concept too. It has great medicinal values. A green leaf still has life in it and oxygen is still coming out of it and that makes the food even better. The person taking the food sat on a wooden plank. Before taking the meal the person took water in his hand and sprinkled it all around the pattal on which the meal was served. This was done to keep the crawling worms away from the food as the water forms a barrier for the crawling worms. Sitting crossed legs helps to digest the food better. The wooden plank prevents the static electricity thus produced from earthing. And the small quantity of water taken in their hands to drink was to wet their throats before eating the meal. It is indeed heartening to see that some families still believe in having their daily meals sitting cross-legged on the ground. Of course when you entertain there is always the dining table to the rescue. In this age when knee problems begin at a young age, sitting cross-legged promotes flexibility.When we eat on floor, we usually sit on a 2 inches high base.
Because you are eating in a sitting position, your stomach is little squeezed and you will definitely eat less compared to eating on a table.
Since the type of food we eat demands no silverware, you have bend for each time for food. thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

"Judge me all you want ,but keep your verdict to yourself"

Culture and customs have evolved in regions according to their respective environment.
Say what you like but eating Indian food with fingers is the best way to go about it.This became so much more apparent to me after i broke a few fingers in my right hand .
Burnt my mouth many a times because i couldnt "feel" the hot food with my spoon .
As for burping ,in India its a sign that you have enjoyed the food and is taken as a compliment by the host.On what basis can you judge it to be uncivilised ?
and no making noises like pig while eating is not part of Indian culture and is purely "Racial stereotyping"

i have met my share of "uncivilised" Europeans . No country/culture is perfect .

Anonymous said...

this is such a good post
great explanation!

NV said...

Indians eat with hands, because of the kind of food they eat...
Westerners eat it with forks as their food is of that way...

Did any Indian ask westerners for why they use forks? I guess never
or asks about their heavy alcohol consumption...? or using ONLY toilet paper habit? i guess NEVER...
Indians do it with their own CHOICE... If westerners can't take it then its their problem...
Raising these issues and cristising it in public just shows haterate for Indians (GOD KNOWS WHY)
Grow up people...

Soil said...

I think Indians eat with their hands becoz they love their hands and belive they are safe.

Westerners don't like their hands and they hate them so much that they prefer forks.
I wonder they can cook it with hands but can't eat the same using hands.

Anonymous said...

Oww god you're giving a scientific explanation.....whats the big deal in it, its just old customs that we follow.....never does an Indian feel dirty about eating with their hands or feel that 'its the best way to enjoy food', we as well feel comfy eating with our hands or spoons. Had our customs been eating with feet, we would have been doing exactly that.

Hari K S said...

At the end - I should rather say 'at the beginning' - they also eat with their hands and mouth only.

Anonymous said...

eating with hands and fingers does enhance the flavores and give a sence of enjoyment. so, westerners, i see them use hands for pizza, hambergers,...

Anonymous said...

I'm forced to live with a particularly disgusting south Indian roommate. The way he mixes sauces into his rice using his hands, plus the slurping is quite revolting. I don't know why we allow these people into this country. Hopefully India and Pakistan will completely annihilate each other in nuclear war.

Catalyst God said...

^^
Wow, I just hope you get hit by a bus or something. What a loser!

Anonymous said...

south indians (below maharashtra) really suck at their way of eating with hands...... if u r a south indian and have some guts, accept it......

in general, i would say, eating with hands is a really nice thing ( except for liquids )

Catalyst God said...

You really are biased. I have seen many people from maharashtra and even Gujarat eat this way. Irrespective of how it may seem to you, you have to understand its the natural way of consuming food. There is nothing wrong with. So stop being so uptight about it. Its is truly sad to see people form false opinions of others based on such insignificant and pointless bias. Tell yourself whatever you want to for feeling good about yourself, but you are a shame to our kind (Human).

Anonymous said...

@catalyst god, (am the one who wrote the post above urs, and now replying you for ur post)

here is what i think, if you find yourself with a bad habit, you should work on it and get rid of it, rather than glorifying what u do is correct.

evey community/culture has some short comings, and we should work on that, even north indians, western indian (europeans, americans)have some bad ways of doing some things.... and even they shud reaaly work on that.

I didnt mean to hurt anyone, i just wrote about what i experienced....

so am neither biased, or do i need to be ashamed of myself...

thats y i said at the start, u need to have balls to accept the truth...

Catalyst God said...

I don't know where you said anything about needing balls, it might help if you actually used some kind of a screen name.

Besides, balls have nothing to do with this issue. Every community does have shortcomings, but this is not one of them. Unless you are going to come back with a scientific reason as to why this is an unacceptable fashion of consuming food, I'm afraid you're fighting a loosing battle.

I can understand that you share a level of distaste with the practice, but to come out and portray an entire community practicing it as some form of a lower culture squarely places you in the narcissistic side of the equation.

Sure, there are questionable food practices around the world that can raise the ire of some, but that does not entitle anyone to paint them as inferior or bad in anyway. It is just a practice and it is how they have evolved over the years. Who are we to question otherwise.

In the current context, people eat the way they do because its the way they know to do it right while enjoying it in their own way. It does not harm anyone or anything, except for a few people with OCD. Relax and chill, there is no need to judge them.

Joe American said...

Westerners don't like to eat with their hands because they piss on them and don't wash, especially Americans. Stop and watch in the mens bathroom at any American baseball or football game. Oh wait, they don't wash and then go and eat a bunch of animal guts ground into a pulp and shoved in casing with their hands. Oops.

Anonymous said...

@catalyst god

Buddy, Let me clear myself.....

I completely agree about eating with hands.......

But i just dont support eating in an ugly fashion....

Even if someone eats ugly with knife and fork, then its not good

anyways, i agree i shudnt portray the whole community as bad because not all of them eat that way....

I had bad experience and saw bad things on utube/tv etc, so i made my impression like that, but my friend told me that, those ppl are very few out of total population...

so, sorry to hurt ur feelings buddy..... :(

I was arguing with you because you were supporting that way of eating, rather than saying , not all people do eat that way.......

So, if you are still supporting that way of eating, am not with you buddy.... else I agree everything

Catalyst God said...

@Anonymous:

The fashion may be ugly, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Being ugly is different from being wrong. I can understand if you say that you cannot watch it happening before your eyes. But to judge anybody based on something so trivial is unfair and unnecessary. Accept the fact that they are just different people with different habits. There is absolutely no need to hate/detest them for that.

Anonymous said...

Catalyst God, you are a %&!^ing @#*hole.

I have been reading these comments and you come across as a self proclaimed moderator. People are simply expressing how they feel. It looks like it is hard for you to accept any criticism. You get very defensive. You need to cool down and chill it instead of telling others to do the same.

From the way you have been attacking people it appears as though all the negatives pointed out in their comments are some how a reflection of how you and members of your family and probably members of your community eat. Grow up. Learn to take criticism and improve. Never expect to always hear good things. When someone expresses things that are not to your liking, stop and think about it and reflect on it. May be there is something for you to learn in what is said. If not ignore it. When you attack a comment that you find offensive it is obvious that you are guilty of the mentioned uncivilized practices. If the cap fits you wear it and stop dishing out the sambar with your fingers and not to forget that offal belch and disgusting burp – Lion or Tiger you are not, while a Pig you may be in which case it would help to learn some table manners .

Catalyst God said...

Nice!!! real classy. I am pretty sure I laid out a well articulated explanation. If it really pisses you off so much that you have to resort to name calling, I guess we can all see who the immature A-Hole is. Of course I'm not a moderator. I do however follow this topic and am notified of updates to the comments. That is why I reply. As for the silly idea you have that I am "GUILTY" of said practices, it shows how deeply biased you are. You can only be guilty if you've done something wrong. I have made it pretty clear I enjoy this way of eating and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Does that mean I will do it at the expense of others' inconvenience? NO. I am civilized enough to understand the argument from both sides of the aisle, but in case you haven't noticed, people of your ideology tend to be more aggressive. Indians by nature are a very accepting people and do not really resort to belittle other cultures of the world because they realize that everyone is just different.

Oh and lets get something straight, anyone on the Internet can be tough talking macho. I am talking in exactly the same fashion as I would if you were here before me as a person. You better check yourself, you're not the only one with the French vocabulary at hand. In the interest of keeping this conversation going, I will refrain for now.

Jay said...

Eating with hands is just plain unsanitary and looks uncouth. Seems like we Indians haven't evolved as much as the Chinese.

Now, all Indians from all states send me your hate mail.

Anonymous said...

some cultures should b preserved while others should not
eating with hands is simply dirty, unpractical, unhealthy.
ok do it at home, but pls dont do it at public places.

Anonymous said...

I've been to many sports bars where the men eat buffalo wings and have the sauce dripping all over their fingers and mouths, needless to say, some foods just taste better when eaten by hands. Of course being messy about it is not a pleasant sight but those that do it well enjoy and appreciate their food on a different level than most will ever experience.

Mike said...

I am half indian born and raised in america and I must say I find eating with hands to be repulsive, sorry pisons. I love Indian food and I find it rather satisfying when eaten with fork and nife. I don't mind using the breads to scoop up biryani or whatever else but sticking your fingers into sauce is just unrefined. Its also unpracticle if you have to answer a phone call or even itch your face. As far as being part of our culture I must remind you all that the word "culture" implies some sort of development. Ugandans also eat with their hands but its not because they share the same culture as Indians so much as they both lack the development of utensils. Europeans and East Asians also ate with their hands until they developed utensils.

Anonymous said...

It's unbelievable how many here in the US which I love feel that because we developed habits one way that anyone not doing it that way is less civilized. That to me is rather red-neck. No wonder many other countries don't like us and feel we're arrogant. Get out of your small towns and see some of the world and you'll realize there are a lot of differences in cultures/habits. It is amazing how small minded people can be.

AG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AG said...

i read thru whole blogs.. nice an intresting stuff shared.arguments..nasty words..informational
here are my views.

Sitting down and eating,make u eat less food
Eating with hands,wrist movements are more
if food is not eatable with forks,spoons, the break them to chunks so that it can be eaten with hands
Non westerners ,Adapted to the change, some want to stick to it,some feel its royal
if popcorns nachos, dips subways,taco bell can be relished with hands y not other Foods

This point was not discussed

The utensils are washed in resturants(T/E/L/w),they are manufactured(T/E/L),they are tansported(import and exported),decorated in tables(T/L),strelised(E/w)

T TIME
E Electricity
L labour
W Water


These cost can be diverted to Poor and Needy...If Each resturants divert some money or food that they use for this.I bet it will be an intresting figure
a tip concept(If customer does not use spoon or fork, resturants share few % of it .tax free)

Agreed mannerism is Important,but we adjust a bit here and there eating by hand make wonders and tastey and Save TELw

Again water is used to wash u r hands,again if i use spoon or fork ,i wash my hands and mouth after eating,that part of hygene,so that is nullified
and the amount of water usage is less compared to utensils,if used correctly

Based on the crowd i adjust, to use utensils or hand

When u guys come to india please use u r hands,to relish the flavors,jus as some non westerners,try out forks,knife spoons, to try out diffrent foods

I am a South Indian,now in US,who loves to spread this habbit "Eating by hands" for the cost perspective

When west come and try to eat food with hands,we never say ,see how badly they are eating..we nicely they are adjusting to our culture

WELCOME TO INDIAN FOOD !!! .NEXT TIME U EAT INDIAN FOOD TRY IT OUT WITH HANDS.IT MESSY PRACTICE MAKE MAN PERFECT.

I LOVE to American Pizza cheeezzzy with hand or the Burgers.It still can be tried with utensils,not worth it

Humans design and Implement table manners,that can be changed for good reasons

This is my view point.ignore if u feel its absurd

Anonymous said...

Yes, my ex roommate sounded like my dog with peanut butter stuck to the roof of his mouth when she ate. I didn't want to say anything to offend her though. I really didn't see how she could find anyone to eat with her in the dining hall. My mother always yelled at me for "smacking" as a kid, and I just find it disgusting and "unladylike" now. Really, if we should learn your manners when visiting your country, they should definitely learn our manners if they live here.

Sowmya said...

I am from India and I used to have discussions about this topic with my colleagues and friends in Usa. Recently with my experience feeding my toddler, I realized the importance of eating with hands. Usually Indians eat hot food unlike western people. When ever we mix food with hands the food comes down to normal temperature before we feed our babies. Even yougurt rice if it is very cold , when you mix with hands it becomes warm for the baby.
I like my culture and my culture taught me to respect other cultures. I expect the same from civilized people.

Anonymous said...

I'm from south india but I don't like eating with hands especially when I'm in a western country. For me it does look uncivilised. 'Be a Roman in Rome'. I can't believe my fellow countrymen admitt no shame in eating rice with their hands. Yuk!

Anonymous said...

thanks alot!! this helped me alot!!! =)

samac said...

To those who says it's more pleasure eating with bare hand : Westerners eat hambergers, pizzas..with their hands too. The difference is they know when to use hands and when to use cutlery depends on the type of food they are eating, they are more sophisticated. I saw Indians eat wet watery foods with their hands that is so uncomfortable. excuse my grammar, English is not my first language.

Anonymous said...

I think eating with your hands is simply logical by nature.

Now what I don't get is this left/right hand thing. If i'm right handed, then i'm obviously going to wipe my ass with my right hand. Most people I know are right handed. The right handed wipe their ass with that hand, thus I can't see how the right hand is considered more clean than the left. I'd say that the left hand is considerably more sanitary. The less dominate hand to me is cleaner. If a person is left handed, what the hell are they suppose to do?

Catalyst God said...

Not when you are taught from the get go that left is for cleaning purposes and right is for eating regardless of being left/right handed. I have uncles who are left handed but only eat with their right hands.

Gemma said...

no offence could it be any clearer you know, the actual rules about eating with your hands. unless your not even indian.......

Anonymous said...

I am very proud of our culture. South Indian food and table manners are very civilized and very well planned and designed way before Tretha yuga. Its an Art and Science of its own. We have something called Thali which consists of 12 items including pickles. It is intelligently designed to balance proteins and carbs and all nutrients and minerals to make a perfect daily diet. The beauty of this design is to satisfy your palette by eating with hands.
Want to know why!
1)The only way you can create 12 factorial =479 001 600 combinations of tastes is by eating with hands.

2) Our hands have some essential bacteria, which survive your hand wash. These are essential for digestion.

I feel pitty for ignorant people. No one is forcing you to practice. Please go ahead and eat meat with pinch of salt if you don't know how healthy food can taste good.

Anonymous said...

Eating with hand is very beneficial. People talking here (negative) should get few points cleared up. First, Indians eat only with right hand. Infact, it i totally unhygienic for them to touch food with left hand. 2nd, it is their custom to wash the right hand before and after eating (and also same for rituals, etc). 3rd, according to hinduism (which is a typical example of real science), eating with hand has med benefits. Each finger you touch the food with has importance (either by yoga rules or by science). One finger to increase metabolism, one to taste it better, one for digestion and to avoid get ulceration, etc. Food is considered auspicious in India so they love to feed people by themselves. To make fun of the rituals only shows how raw u r at heart.

One simple advice, if you have comments, post it. If you have weird ideas, post it. But, if you have no knowledge or sense, avoid showing that in public as you will only a mockery to yourself.

Never Mind said...

My only issue is people eating with unwashed hands. How can anyone find this hygienic is beyond me? I have seen countless of my colleagues do that. Wait, or is that a part of the culture too? I hope not because I come from the same culture.

And, why when someone criticizes a habit people go 'get lost' or a 'traitor'? Why can't we accept opinions? or are we too sensitive that we have to use abusive and harsh language to express our disapproval of someone's opinions?

Anonymous said...

And why Are people stormatch sick so often in india and Sri Lanka then? Inte satins with your hand contributing to this? Clearly at lesst is morse hygenical eat with utensils.

DubaiChamp said...

I would like to clarify the misconception that some have on this. It is a tradition in India to use their own hands to eat their own food (right hand). With five fingers, you can have a better hold on the food and enjoy your food more conveniently. Before eating food, it is a tradition to wash/rinse fingers thoroughly. Actually it is more hygienic than using fork, spoons and chopsticks. Users of Chopsticks/Fork often tend use it to remove some food particles which get stuck in between the teeth. sometimes they manage to remove the particles with blood the same chopsticks are later washed and given to you in a fresh pack to enable you enjoy your food without realizing the fact that someone had left those fork/chopsticks with bloodstains. Also you know the oral hygiene of people, it is so bad, So, in this case, it is better to use your own hands, because no one else uses your hands other than you. You are the best, your own hands are the best. So this is more hygienic and there is no substitute for it. In General, your own hands are anytime better than any foreign object used by many people for eating. Just wanted to clarify this in a polite way.

Christina said...

I love eating with my hands, although I think I would find it uncomfortable with saucier meals. I like feeling the food in my hands and I can understand the sensuality of it. Have you ever noticed cooking shows... the chefs can't keep their hands off the food! :D

I do have a hard time being "tolerant" of people who eat with their mouth open. For me it is like fingernails down a chalk board. It is a physical reaction. I have to leave the room or practice meditative breathing in order to deal with the anxiety it produces. I am not sure why but there you go. I have to do the same when my dog, a beautiful Great Dane starts smacking his lips.

It is an interesting article with some interesting dialogue after, the exception being the trolling rude people.

Cheers!
C

Anonymous said...

lovin this post!!! A proud desi gal from SA

Anonymous said...

I understand when people say they are disgusted by eating habits of some people. But my point is...

please DO NOT GENERALIZE ur isolated experiences to a whole group of people, like westerners to all Indians //or N. Indians to S. Indians.

I have a colleague, A MIDDLE-AGED WHITE POLISH AMERICAN, who picks her teeth with the fork she just ate with....yewwww.

I always choose disposable utensils while eating outside because of that experience but I DID NOT GENERALIZE all americans as such.