In traditional Hindu homes, there are certain rules regarding food. This includes (and is not restricted to) preparation and storage of food, serving, consumption, cleaning, etc. The main idea behind these guidelines is that food is sacred, and it needs to treated with sanctity. Makes sense, doesn’t it? The food we eat nourishes our body, our minds, and our souls. It becomes us. Obviously, it is important that we pay attention to what we feed our body and mind. Ayurveda has specific guidelines about food and its consumption. Here is a science that looks at the body as part of the Universe it resides in, and I cannot imagine a better perspective to understand health and well-being. Anyway, I am no authority on Ayurveda, so I’ll move on to writing about what I originally intended… the concept of ‘Jhootha.’
‘Jhootha’ is a Hindi word that literally means ‘liar.’ It’s also used in the sense of ‘cross-contaminated.’ Simply put, if I were to use a ladle to taste the soup bubbling away on the stove, then put the ladle back into the pot, it essentially means that the soup is ‘Jhootha.’ Seinfeld’s famous ‘double dip’ episode talks about the same point. In case of a meal that comprises of meat and vegetarian preparations, using the same serving spoon for both kinds of food amounts to cross-contamination as well. Maybe not so much for the folks eating meat but I’d imagine a very different response from the vegetarians at the table.
Essentially, it is about maintaining the purity of things, in a larger sense. Keeping the milk from curdling because you used a spoon that was resting in the yogurt container, maintaining the cleanliness of your actions, keeping the space around and within sacred and special… I am not sure if that makes much sense. But I’ll leave it at that for now. And hopefully come back to it later when I am able to articulate better.
Anonymous (in the comments below) tells me that the actual pronunciation of the word is ‘Jootha’ and it means cross-contaminated. The Hindi word for ‘liar’ is ‘Jhootha,’ with a heavier emphasis on the first syllable. Thanks, Anonymous!