In my culture, we believe that all foods have spiritual or divine properties and are therefore considered sacred or holy. For us, the divinity in food is not just about offering and relishing the food item as we have it. It is also about preparing food with mindfulness and gratitude. Being present and thankful for the food and the effort that went into making it. Additionally, choosing organic, locally sourced, and in season gives the food a sense of purity and holiness.
In Hinduism, Annapoorna – a form of the goddess Parvati, is considered the goddess of food and nourishment and is worshiped as the food giver to all living beings. Her name, “Annapoorna,” literally means “one who fills the bellies” or “one who provides food.” Annapoorna is often depicted holding a bowl of food in one hand and a spoon in the other. She is sometimes shown standing next to a kitchen or holding a cooking pot. Annapoorna is a benevolent goddess, and her blessings are sought for a bountiful harvest, good health, and prosperity. She is also believed to be the protector of travelers and those away from home.
Interestingly, it is just about the practice; blessing food can have a positive impact on our psychological well-being in several ways:
1. Gratitude: Giving thanks for the food we eat can help us cultivate a sense of gratitude, which has been linked to increased feelings of happiness and well-being.
2. Mindfulness: Blessing food can also help us be more mindful and present, leading to a more satisfying and enjoyable meal.
3. Connection: Blessing food can also be a way to connect with others, whether by saying grace with family and friends or participating in a communal meal.
4. A sense of purpose: Blessing food can also give us a sense of purpose and meaning by connecting us to something greater than ourselves.
5. Spirituality: Blessing food can also be a way to connect with our spirituality and express our devotion and respect for something greater than ourselves.
Offering the same benefits to our students, from today onwards, in the kitchen of Rishihood University, everything we cook is a “prasad,” offering it to the provider and then distributed among the devotees.