If there are leftovers from last night's dinner, who eats it? Who is served first at home? Who gets the coveted leg piece in that delicious chicken biryani? If you haven't got a clue about the answers to these, then it's probably you who is being pampered at mealtimes without even knowing. In some parts of the world, a meal brings the family together, however, in India, a meal divides.
Men are served first, followed by the children and older women and then the wife
Ask your grandparents how they ate their meals, most probably your grandfather was always served first and only after he finished did your grandmother serve herself. This "tradition"continues even today in a majority of Indian homes and this is not related to adults even as young girls are asked to serve their brothers first, easting only after them. Usually, the men are served first, followed by the children and older women and then the wife and this is said to have caused a lot of malnutrition among women since they usually eat whatever is left and sometimes even stale food to avoid wastage. Does it matter whether a woman is hungry or not? She always has to eat after the men. Vandana Mishra of Rajasthan Nutrition Project (RNP) says, "This tradition of prioritizing men's needs means sometimes when women sit down to eat, there isn't enough left for them."
Families must be encouraged to eat together
Although urban areas have come a long way from its says of serving the men first, girls are still expected to help their mothers cook and serve the food while the men and boys sit around int he living room, watching television. Ask any Indian mother and she'll most probably reveal that she is the first one to wake up in the home and the last one to eat any meal of the way. We must change this and encourage more families to eat together rather than having some members eat first, regardless of gender everyone must eat at the same time. Not only does this foster a sense that everyone is important, but it is also a great way to spend some quality time with the family, ensuring that everyone has a share of the food available. In a culture where men arent raised to look after women but vice versa, who will ensure that women to feel part of the family as any man. Next time at dinner, will you eat first or will you insist that everyone eats together?