In Hinduism food is considered as God (Brahman) and said to be a part of Brahman as it nourishes the entire physical, mental and emotional aspects of a human being. It is considered as a gift from God and should be treated respectfully. According Manu (Vedas) food should be eaten in religious attitude for the purpose survival and giving strength to the body to practice self control and austerities, but not for the sake of pleasure. This is the concept behind Hindu Food.
Hindu Food and Vegetarianism :
Eating food by killing animals is said to block mental and spiritual growth. This is the reason why Hinduism emphasizes on vegetarianism. Another reason it believes that killing innocent and helpless animals for the purpose of food is a bad karma that brings harmful consequences not only to the man who is eating but to the entire planet.
Restriction and rules in Hindu Food :
- Beef is strictly forbidden as a food in Hinduism. Cow is considered as mother in Hinduism. But dairy products like milk, butter and yogurt are said to increase spiritual purity.
- Pork is strictly forbidden as food in Hinduism.
- Food obtained from any animal is restricted. Meat is not always prohibited in the Laws of Manu.
- To avoid violence or pain, vegetarianism is advocated.
- Serving food to the poor and the needy or a beggar is good karma.
- Fasting depends on a person's caste and the occasion.
Food Rituals :
Several rituals are associated with food in Hindu tradition. A child’s first solid food is celebrated as a samskara, or rite, known as annaprasana. The funeral rites involve serving food and offering food to the departed soul for his journey to the ancestral world.
Hindus practice some rituals before eating.
- Cleaning the place where the food will be eaten
- Sprinkling of water around the food, accompanied by some mantras or prayers
- Making an offering of the food, then offering five vital breaths (pranas), namely prana, apana, vyana, udana, and samanaya and then to Brahman seated in the heart