Yoga, Spirituality in South India Series – Part IV

Criss-Cross Applesauce……………………

When I was growing up, we always sat down on the floor to have our meals. We bought a dining table in the late 90’s in my home so that guests and my grandma who was unable to sit on the floor could have their meals a bit more comfortably. We would sit on the floor like you would for your meditation (Padmasanam). In the olden days, people used banana leaf for a plate. Banana leaves were available in abundance in the backyard and you could always get a fresh one. It was also believed that if you serve your guests in the leaf, you are honoring them. If you think of it, banana leaves are eco-friendly too.

Indians eat their food mostly with their hands, preferrably right hand. This allows you to touch it and enjoy the feel of the food you are eating. The taller you get, it will get tougher to eat in the sit down position because you need to bend more – to let your mouth meet the food in your hand mid-way since you are not allowed to spill the food on the floor.  In most of the houses, men will eat first and the women will have their food later on. And also, men are not allowed to serve the food by themselves. Women will wait on them and serve them as necessary. Women are not equal to men and so they are not allowed to sit down with the men and serve them. They will be standing and serving with their hip bent.  This is a rigourous exercise and the intensity will depend upon the number of men in your household.

Does this sound interesting and funny to you? You should try this at home and see how hard it is to serve people sitting down on the floor. We have hundreds of guests who turn up at weddings and other gatherings and they are all served their meal this way. To make it more interesting for the folks helping you with this exercise by sitting down, serve them soup on a banana leaf. South Indian meals consist of rice and curries that are runny and are fluids.

Now, you know that Criss-Cross Applesauce is the same as Padmasana. This posture is assumed when we do any kind of religious rituals including our Poojas and meditation. When you are meditating, you sit down criss-cross applesauce and keep your back straight. This helps your breath to travel easily and deeply. Your palms will rest on your knees and facing upwards. Keeping the palms open and facing upwards is symbolic of your readiness to recieve.

Times have changed and people do not sit down on the floor for their meals anymore. The middle class have gotten richer and everyone fancies classic furniture and style in their houses. More and more, people find it hard to sit down on the floor even for a special occasion let alone three times everyday for their meals.