Makhana in Hindu Mythology
In recent times, Makhana seeds and flakes have found a global platform with the awareness of its innumerable health benefits. Though many countries like U.S., Europe might have woken up to the existence of Makhana in the last few years, its origin dates back to hundreds of years a ago. In mythology of different eras, we can find the birth and names of Makhana.
The term mythology refers to collection of myths, fables and tales of sacred, religious practices. It consists of stories that could be myths but deal with good or evil, Gods & Goddesses, creatures that are half human, half animal, super humans etc.
The word Mythology originates from Greek language i.e. Mythos means story of people and logos means word or speech. There are many myths about Makhana as to how it derived its name in Greek Mythology and its use in Indian Mythology.
Makhana is a super food that eaten across the globe during observing fast, religious ceremonies, offering prasad to deities etc. In mythology around the world, Makhana has been considered as a wonder nut that not only nourishes the body but also balances the mind owing to all the rich nutrients like proteins, potassium, magnesium, calcium etc.
Greek Mythology of Makhana
Makhana is also known as Fox nut, Gorgon nut and Euryale Ferox. The words Gorgon and Euryale are Greek words that have a big significance in Greek Mythology. Gorgon in Greek mythology refers to terrible or dreadful. In Greek Mythology Gorgons were referred to the three sisters who had hair of living snakes. Euryale Ferox prickly water lily. Its leaves have thorns on the surface. Hence, the comparison with the Greek mythological Gorgon figure Euryale.
Story of Gorgon sisters in Greek Mythology
Botanically, Makhana is also called Euryale Ferox which belongs to the family of Nymphaeaceae. In Greek Mythology, Euryale was one of the three Gorgon sisters. It is said that Euryale and her other two sister named Medusa and Stheno were not born as gorgons. The story of the three sisters turning into gorgons is very interesting. Medusa, sister of Euryale had a passionate affair with Poseidon, the God of Sea. They had an affair in the temple of Athena. Since, Goddess Athena was a virgin, it angered her and she turned Medusa into a Gorgon. Since at that time, Euryale and Stheno was also with Medusa, they too were turned into Gorgons.
Due to the appearance of the thorny plant, this water lily is called Euryale Ferox. Though there is no evidence to this claim but researchers believe that’s how its name originated.
Makhana in Indian Mythology
India is a home to many religions mainly Hinduism, Islam, Christians and Sikhism. Apart from these, Jains, Buddhists, Parsi community too are a part of the glorious history of India. Religions has played a very important role amongst ancient India. Mythology talks about uncountable Gods and Goddesses. Every state of India has many deities that have been revered over centuries. In Indian mythology, festivals are celebrated in the the honour of all the deities.
Mainly cultivated in Bihar, Makhana has a long history of being considered as a pure food in Indian culture. In Eighteenth century, under the kingship of King Darbhanga, Makahana was cultivated in the small region of Madhubani. Since then, Makhana has been included in all the food offering during festivals across the country
Be it any religion or culture in India, Makhana has been a part of every religious practice and rituals. Makhana has been considered as a “Satvik Bhojan” that is offered to idols of Gods and Goddesses. In Indian mythology, in religious texts, it is advised to take light, easy digestible food like Makhana that helps in working of the digestion system of the people observing fasts. It does not disrupt the body functioning due to lack of nutrients.
Owing to its heavenly nature, Makhana is considered pure during Pooja and Havans during Hindu ceremony. People observing fasts during Navratri and Durga Pooja have Makhana as a food to eat. Apart from dry fruits, fruits, Makhana is very famous option even in Muslim community during Ramazan. People observe Roza or fast and eat Makhana in different forms.
In Gujarati community in India, Falahari Makhana Chivda is very famous as a snacking options. During festival period or Pooja at home, Gujarati women make Makhana Chivda by roasting it in a pan with a little oil and Sendha namak or the Rock salt. They also add peanuts and dry fruits to it to make it more tasty and filling.
In Jain community, both Shewtambara and Digambara are very particular about their food intake during fasts and Pooja. They observe day long fasts in the name of God and only eat the food that is considered pure. Makhana is one of their favourite choices as it is considered a pure snack. It is supposed to have health benefits that help in sustaining people during the fasts.
Makhana has always been a very important ingredient of any food offered to God as it has many benefits that helps people in keeping healthy. People also offer Makhana desserts like Kheer and sheera to deities. It is also then distributed among the devotees. Many people open their fasts with Makhana kheer. It is considered auspicious to make Makhana snacks at home as opposed to eat from packaged Makhana that are being sold by retailers these days.
After the awareness among people, many manufacturers and retailers have tried to cash in on selling Makhana products during festivals and religious celebrations. However, Indians still prefer to make Makhana at home with their own hands as they believe in following the whole ritual process during any fast or festival.