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Illinois Wesleyan University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

India: National Identity and the Arts


Food and religion are both defining characteristics of a culture, serving as a unique language of communication. The Vaisnava Hindu tradition holds very specific guidelines for food in relation to the religious lifestyle. The inclusions and exclusions, cooking techniques, history, and the manifestation of anciently rooted traditions in the modern world reveal a great deal about the people within the culture. Vaisnavas do not consume meat, fish, garlic, onion, carrot or mushroom, but still maintain the Indian tradition of food bursting with flavor. Beyond the strict culinary aspects of the culture, the religious beliefs exhibit a strong influence upon the food consumed by those in the Vaisnava life. Through study of scriptures, food anthropological studies, stories of devotees, and cooking experience, a part of the rich world of Vaisnava cuisine with its culinary sophistication and devout devotion was exposed. Although it is only a small representation of the relationship between food and religion, it offers an important insight into an integral portion of Indian culture.


Arts and Humanities | Family, Life Course, and Society | Social and Cultural Anthropology