India is a great country where people observe different practices that defy logic or reasoning.
India is a land of unity in diversity; it is also the land of diversities and contradictions. There are many gods, goddesses, traditions, customs, and rituals in India which are quite difficult to comprehend not only by foreigners but by Indians themselves. There are great scientists, doctors and engineers in India who have their own notions of religion and rituals; there are also hundreds of saints who advocate their own ideologies, modes of worship, and practices which are distinct from one another. The purpose of this article is not to dwell on all of the issues mentioned above, but to highlight on two specific incidents that came to my attention recently. Here, I would like to clarify to my readers one thing: we Indians are mysterious and stick to our own beliefs, scientific or superstitious, and often tend to impose on others even when they might defy logic or credibility.
N. R. Narayana Murthy, software engineer, industrialist, and Chairman Emeritus of Infosys is a well-known figure in the world of Information technology. The wedding of his daughter Akshata was held at a Kalyana Mandir in Bangalore in August 2009. The lunch and breakfast he hosted to the invitees was special in that it was in conformity with his beliefs about Indian food – the food items were bereft of onions and garlic, the two essential ingredients of typical Indian or western dishes elsewhere. In fact, being a man of science (or technology?), he had ensured that he imposed his personal beliefs on the unsuspecting guests by serving the Mysore style vegetarian lunch consisting of Aralu sandige, papad, fresh mango pickle, balake, Mango chutney, mixed raitha, sprouted moong kosambari with pomegranate, Black gram dal kosambari, Cabbage and moong dal playa, Beans playa, Vangibath (with capsicum and brinjal), Tili saaru (rasam), tovve, ghee, Majjige paldhya, Sandige huli, Pineapple gojju ,and Ambode that were totally devoid of onion and garlic.
Now let me think aloud what is wrong with the onions or garlic, the two hapless victims of N R Narayana Murthy. To figure this out, I had to refresh my knowledge of Ayurveda, the ancient system of Indian medicine, revered all over the world. Onion helps us get protection from oxidative stress and statistically reduces the risks of some types of cancer. It is a vegetable containing polyphenols, one of the major phytonutrients in food. Onions contain folic acid, dietary fibre, and Vitamin C. It contains antioxidants and is believed to prevent gastric ulcers. Also, onions are said to have anti-inflammatory and anticholesterol properties, and are beneficial in fighting common cold and osteoporosis.