Rice: Role In Different Traditions | Forbidden To Eat On Ekadashi | Not A Good Night Meal
Updated: Oct 24
Rice holds great importance in Hindu tradition and rituals. It is considered as auspicious and a symbol of prosperity and fertility. And the most important food crop with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake. As a cereal grain, domesticated rice is the most widely consumed staple food for over half of the world's human population, especially in Asia and Africa. It is the predominant dietary energy source for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 9 countries in North and South America and 8 countries in Africa. Rice provides 20% of the world's dietary energy supply and cooked unenriched long-grain white rice is composed of 68% water, 28% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and negligible fat.
A detailed analysis of nutrient content of rice suggests that the nutrition value of rice varies based on a number of factors. It depends on the strain of rice, such as white, brown, red, and black (or purple) varieties having different prevalence across world regions. It also depends on nutrient quality of the soil rice is grown in, whether and how the rice is polished or processed, the manner it is enriched, and how it is prepared before consumption.
Rice is a dish that leads to an instant spike in your blood glucose levels as it breaks down easily and that means, you have an instant burst of energy. Rice is also one of the ingredients that can lead to weight gain as it has more calories in the form of carbs which if not used, stores as fat in your body. When you eat rice for dinner, this instant spike in energy is created as the food is digested easily but because you are going to be asleep for the next few hours, your body will not get any nutrition for these many hours.
Rice also plays an important role in certain religions and popular beliefs. It symbolize fertility and prosperity. In many cultures relatives will scatter rice during the end of a wedding ceremony in front of the bride and groom as blessings. In India when the daughter departs from her maternal home, it is considered auspicious on her part to throw some rice behind to ensure that her home is always blessed with material and spiritual prosperity. It is also believed that the bride is encouraged to leave behind all the spiritual debts that she may have towards her parents. So, that when she starts her new journey in her marital home she does so without any baggage.
The pounded rice ritual is conducted during weddings in Nepal. The bride gives a leafplate full of pounded rice to the groom after he requests it politely from her. In the Philippines rice wine, popularly known as tapuy, is used for important occasions such as weddings, rice harvesting ceremonies and other celebrations.
Also it's popular that rice is forbidden to eat on Ekadashi. Not only rice but anything that belongs to the “Grain” category should not be consumed on Ekadashi. It is said in Vishnu Purana that eating rice on Ekadashi ends all virtues of a person as rice is primarily the food of God. Therefore, as far as possible, prohibit rice on the day of Ekadashi so that any sin can be avoided. There are also different interesting legends associated with this practice that discourages rice consumption on Ekadashi.
This story is associated with God annihilating Demon Mura. It is believed that demon Mura found a dwelling place in the rice and a young woman appeared from Lord Vishnu to annihilate Mura on Ekadashi tithi.
According to another legend, Maharishi Medha left her body to escape the wrath of Mother Shakti. At that time, his parts got absorbed in the Earth and Maharishi Medha was born in the form of rice and barley. Ekadashi tithi was the day when Maharishi Medha’s parts were absorbed in the earth. Since then, it is said that Maharishi Medha took birth on earth in the form of rice and barley itself. This is why rice and barley are considered to be living beings.
Once, a drop of sweat fell from lord Brahma's forehead. And it soon turned into a demon. The demon then appealed to Lord Brahma and sought permanent shelter. So Lord Brahma asked him to live in the rice grains. Hence, people avoid rice on Ekadashi Tithi.
Not only from religious point of view but also scientifically it has been proven that consuming food that belongs to the grain category can have detrimental effect on the body. The Moon's gravitational force causes high and low tides on the earth. This is because it attracts the water bodies, thereby causing high waves. And it is said that the position of the Moon on Ekadashi Tithi is unfavourable to the human digestive system. Therefore, food grains with water retaining characteristics are avoided on the day of Ekadashi.
Fasting food is meant to be light and easy to digest. If you eat heavy food which is difficult to digest then all the energy of the body goes in digesting the food and it also makes you sleepy. So during fasting one should eat light and the kind of food which is easy to digest. So that all the energies can move towards god or towards your sadhana or towards the higher chakras. Ekadashi is a very powerful day to make progress in spirituality. Fasting on every Ekasdshi detoxifies the body of the observer after every ten to eleven days, keeping all the systems of the body, specifically the digestive system at rest for a day.