Food is considered as a part of God or Brahman in Hinduism. Ancient Vedic scriptures regard food with great reverence and look up to it as the only source of physical, mental and emotional nourishment for the body.
Food defined in Ancient Scriptures
Sasyam kshetragatam prahuhu satusham dhanyamuchyate Amam vitushamityuktam swinnamannamudahrutam
(Translated as – Food is the processed version of edibles. For daily survival food is very necessary for human body. Food is the demand of human body after a regular interval.)
Food and Human Anatomy
The food which is consumed by the human body, works as its source of nourishment. However, besides nourishment, it predominantly supports the development of human body. Thus empirical researches on human anatomy have linked the structure and development of the body to the quality of its food consumption.
Food as the Symbol of Sacrifice
Without counting any natural edible product as a material object, it has gained a prime status in the Hindu society and given the stature of a deity who helps us sustain in this world. Hence, this act of having food is considered pious in Hinduism.
Further, it is compared with the sacrifices. The heat in the stomach which is known as Jatharagni is the symbol of sacrificial fire. The food which we consume is the offering made in that sacrificial fire.
Reasons behind performing Pranam after completing food or meal
There is a custom among the Hindus to offer Pranam after completing every meal. The reason for such custom can be given as,
Since the food is considered as deity, we salute our food or daily meals with a respectful mind.
Mankind exists because of food intake. One eats food to survive and set off his karmas. Hence, food is considered as the ‘final soul’,
The Pranam is also done in respect to that ‘final soul’.
Pranam is also done in order to pay our obeisance to the food and pray that its intake will result in generating positive energy and restoration in our body.
Again, through Pranam we value the importance of food and pray to God that we never face its scarcity in life.
Since we survive in an interdependent society, the food which we consume is produced by a group of interconnected workers – such as farmer, transporters, wholesaler, retailers etc. – and not by any one single person.
Due to their hard work and efforts the final food product is available to us. Hence, the Hindu tradition has developed the custom to salute (Pranam) such group of people without whom food would not have reached its final consumer.
There is also a practice of reciting the below mantra,
(Annadata or Annadatri sukhi bhava)
(Translated as – The mantra is one’s prayer – chanted after completing the food – in honor of the cook or the giver of food.)