When we hear stories of ancient India, we hear about poorness, poverty, limited ways of communication, food crisis, limited ways of transportation and poor health and medical facilities. Well, these problems did exist in old Indian but it’s not the entire picture. Certain problems were limited to a certain area and most of these problems were brought by the invaders.
Moreover, these were not the factors that used to bind the country from North to South or East to West. The factors that united the country in the past are more or less the same even today. These factors are cultures, diversity of food, and old habits with unknown benefits.
It took the world a pandemic to understand the importance of greeting people with a Namaste rather than holding hands. The importance of washing hands was integral to the teachings of ancient India. Another ancient practice was eating on plates made up of leaves of certain leaves. Different leaves were used in different parts of the country, depending on the availability.
While disposable plates and glass plates have replaced these plates in most of the parts of the country, use of Banana leaves is still in practice in the Southern part of the country. Many people may think that eating on a plant’s leaf is regressive and a thing of the last but there used to be a log behind every ancient practice in India and this one is no different. We are going to tell about 8 lesser-known benefits of eating on banana leaves.
They are affordable
Designer glass plates are good looking but they are costly too. The rich ones might be able to purchase them easily, it is not a cost-effective option for the masses. Moreover, glass plates are easy to break and this adds to the cost factor. Banana leaves, on the other hand, can be grown in the backyard or can be purchased in bulk from the local market at very cheap prices. Unlike glass or steel plates, you will get banana leaves on the price of per kilogram instead of per piece.
Banana leaves are waterproof in nature. A lot of South Indian dishes are liquid such as rasam, sambhar etc. Since Banana leaves are waterproof, liquid dishes do not stick on the surface and you can easily eat on it. Also, if you are someone who is concerned about the hygiene factor, you can wash your banana leaves after purchasing to ensure there are no germs on the surface. Banana leaves do not break or tear when washed.
Banana leaves have a very thin coating on their surface and when hot cooked food is poured on the surface, the upper coating melts and releases a very pleasant aroma or fragrance. It also adds a special flavour to your dish. You might particularly notice this while eating sambhar on the banana leaf. This is one of the key reasons that people find eating on the banana leaf much tastier.
Mention in Ancient Literature
The importance of Banana leaves finds a mention in different ancient Hindu kinds of literature. This is why it is used in many rituals and celebrations for decoration purposes as well as for eating food. Banana leaf decoration is associated with prosperity and peace. A lot of ancient literature mentions people across different generations eating on banana leaves. This certifies that banana leaves are safe to eat on.
There are several proven health benefits of eating on banana leaves. Banana leaves have antioxidant properties similar to green tea. They also have antibacterial properties and kill the germs present in the food, if any. A chemical called Epigallocatechin Gallate is present in banana leaves that give it antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. There are numerous health benefits of eating on banana leaves.
Disposable plates and bowls are used in mass gatherings such as weddings and other events around the ear. These disposable plates are generally made up of recycled plastic. After these events are done, dumping the leftover disposable plates is a big problem and it causes harm to the environment as these plates do not decompose. Replacing them with banana leaves can solve the problem and the harm to the environment can be prevented.
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As mentioned earlier, banana leaves have antioxidant and antifungal properties. They are free of chemical fertilizers. Moreover, you do not need to wash banana leaves with detergents and soaps that contain chemicals. Since you can clean banana leaves just with water, the risk of detergents sticking on the surface and mixing with the food gets eliminated.
Use in Ayurveda
Banana leaves have a special place in Ayurveda. A lot of medicines in Ayurveda have banana leaves as an ingredient. Apart from making medicines, banana leaves were also used in ancient times to make small pouches containing the medicines. The medicinal properties of banana leaves certify their safety. A lot of small firms are returning to banana leaves with a new style of plates and bowls made from the leaves.