Nourished by the Jungle: Feeding Mythology
The jungle looms large in Indian mythology. In both the great epics, the heroes must spend large parts of their lives there – they may not go there willingly, yet it seems important that they do. The jungle is dangerous, yet it also seems to be a source of strength and vitality.
The jungle also influences how we eat. Human settlement, which is the opposite of the jungle, is marked by farmed crops and domesticated animals. The jungle contains powerful forces, like Aranyani, the goddess of the forest but settled life has its own deities – including specific ones for food, like Shakhambari, the goddess of vegetables, and Annapurna, the goddess of the kitchen. They are the ones who will ensure that the life of villages and cities will not know hunger.
Yet the jungle is not devoid of food either and those who are in it learn how to sustain themselves, from foraged foods and hunting. In fact, jungle food seems to have particular value, which is why so many upvas or fasting foods are specifically cooked from foraged foods, or at least not the regular cultivated ones. There is a value to the jungle, just as there is a value to the settled life, and both can sustain us in different ways.
With Devdutta Pattanaik and Vikram Doctor in conversation this #mondayfixgoa
Zoom link – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88686813062
Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian mythologist, speaker, illustrator and author, known for his writing on sacred lore, legends, folklore, fables and parables. His work focuses largely on the areas of myth, religion, mythology, and management.
Vikram Doctor is a journalist with the Economic Times. He writes features, mostly on material culture in India and with a special focus on the many roles and functions of food in Indian society.
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