centuries the directives of of Shastras have been followed, to a
great extent, by Pandits of Kashmir, the sacred land of Kashyap Rishi,
from whom the valley got its name, originally Kashyap Mar. Pandit
means a highly leamed Brahmin. Kashmiri Pandits are Saraswat Brahmins,
decendants of Rishis and Munis, such as Dattatrya, Bhardwaj and Kashyap,
and had their own script (Sharda). Almost all are literate. Kashmir,
a Seat of Learning, was also called Sharda Pith.
reign of Muslim Rulers and after the conversion of most of the Brahmins
to Islam, many changes took place in the Brahmin traditions and habits,
which were inherited from earlier ascetic people of the Valley, but, to
a good extent, these traditions do exist among Kashmiri Pandits even now,
inspite of modernization. The main object, of following the directives
in regards to cooking, serving and eating of foods is hygiene. Total or
partial fasting, Brat as it is called, on certain days, in the form
of a single meal for the day, or even a saltless single meal, or taking
of limited quantity of fruits, some vegetables and milk only on that day,
or having only one cereal meal in twenty-four hours, was a common practice
before three or four decades. This is done even now by many Hindus.
'Dos and Do-Nots', are as under:
Each person eats in a separate plate.
of stale food is prohibited, and is to be avoided.
Katoris of vegetables etc. inside the eating plate (Thali)
4. Water for
drinking is always kept near the diner. In fact, before every main meal
a little water is taken in the form of an Achman with a prayer.
Without the tumbler touching the lips, water is poured into the mouth from
a little distance while drinking.
5. One cannot
touch the unused food articles, or bowls containing the food, with the
hand with which one is cating.
and green vegetables have to be thoroughly washed before being eaten. Even
the knives etc. have to be scrubbed before using these for dressing etc.
7. Food is
eaten while sitting on floor, while eating plates etc. are placed on clay
washed wet floor or on a clean sheet, preferably woolen.
of hands and mouth, before and after eating any food, is a must.
9. One cannot
leave the eating place before the plates (Thalis) etc. are removed
and the place is cleaned.
meals in good light, preferably after sunrise and before sunset, is a directive.
(Brat) on certain days of every week and every month and on certain
days of a year, are recommended, for spiritual and physical welfare.
during eating is thought unwise.
prayers, before and after taking main meals, are to be offered.
eating always some food is set apart, as a 'Vishnu Arpari ', portion, to
be used for serving an Atithi ie., an unannounced guest or a hungry
person or an animal.
15. Use of
aluminium utensils is not recommended. Brass or bronze or terracotta utensils
are used for cooking. Bronze Thalis for eating food, and bronze
cups for drinking tea, were common. To clean bronze it is scrubbed with
ashes. For brassware wet clay is used for scrubbing and cleaning. Copper
utensils are mainly used for Puja. Silver tea-cups and tumblers
etc. are used by aristocracy.
16. One can
serve food only after he or she washes his or her hands. Any food touched
by unclean hands cannot be served or eaten. Even food touched with the
hand with which one has been eating cannot be served to other people.
17. One cannot
transfer any portion of his food, which the person has been eating, to
another person's plate.
18. Meat eating,
and use of intoxicants, are Tamsik and are considered to retard
spiritual growth and physical welfare.