Science Behind Indian traditions   


India is a land of mysticism. One of the oldest civilisations of the world boasting of a rich cultural heritage, over the years, many practices and traditions have developed. Nonetheless, it is not just an individual’s belief that accepts things which other cultures might find quite bizarre, science also backs some of this practices.

Greeting People by joining Hands: The famous ‘Namaskaara’: It is an old practice that guests are treated as Divine- like beings in India (“Atithi Devo Bhava”). We join hands to show respect towards people. Science believes that joining hands puts pressure on certain fundamental points, like the tip of fingers which are nerve points of eyes, ears and the brain. This also allows us to remember the person we have met for a longer period of time. Also, this is considered more hygienic since you do not make any physical contact with the person unlike a hand shake or a hug.

Temples have bells right at their thresholds or just in front of the main arena where the idol is situated. Traditionally it is believed that the sound of the bell keeps negative energy away. Science holds that the sound allows both the hemispheres of the brain to function in unison. The echoing of the bell lasts for around 7 seconds which helps in activating the chakras/ the healing points of the body. This allows the devotee to concentrate on the purpose that brought him to the temple and clear his mind of anything negative.

Ancient practices called for having spicier and tangier food like pickle or “Achaar” before anything sweet. In reality, this is quite a scientific understanding of the human digestive system. Sugar slows down the body whereas, spicy food signals the liver to release digestive juices in order to ensure a very smooth churning of the food and absorption of the nutrients.

Fasting is a very common practice in India. Ayurveda identifies it as a form of detoxification of the body that is composed of 80% water and 20% solid, quite similar to the composition of the earth. Gravitational forces affect a person’s emotions. So, one can have a bad temperament, get jittery or anxious at times. Fasting helps ensure that the acid content in the blood is balanced and reverses the adverse effects of the gravitational pull.

Married Hindu women wear sindoor or vermillion in order to swear allegiance to their husbands. Vermillion is composed to mercury which helps in controlling one’s blood pressure and also stimulates the sexual energy. This is also the reason why widows are prohibited from wearing sindoor, that is, to curb their sexual drive.

It is a common practice among Indians to touch the feet of their elders. When we touch people’s feet, we surrender our egos and when they accept the respect, they emit positive energy that gets transmitted through their hands and the feet. This increases the flow of cosmic energy in between two people which bonds their hearts and minds.

Anushree Ghosh

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