The Historical and Religious Significance of Honey
Honey has a history and it is quite interesting. Honey is called God Food, as in Hindu religion Hindu offers “Panchamrit” for God Satyanarayan Bhagwan (Vishnu – God of Preservation). Hindu Gods – Krishna and Vishnu are called Madhav meaning the “nectar born ones”. There is another interesting fact that in ancient Hindu marriages, honey was gifted to the bride and groom for keeping away the evil spirit. One marriage contract has been found which states, “I take thee to wife… and promise to deliver to thee yearly twelve jars of honey.” (Thee is an old-fashioned, poetic, or religious word for ‘you’ when you are talking to only one person. It is used as the object of a verb or preposition).
In Buddhism, honey plays an important role in the festival of Madhu Purnima, celebrated in India and Bangladesh. The day commemorates Buddha’s making peace among his disciples by retreating into the wilderness. According to legend, while he was there a monkey brought him honey to eat. On Madhu Purnima, Buddhists remember this act by giving honey to monks. The monkey’s gift is frequently depicted in Buddhist art.
The Christian New Testament says that John the Baptist lived for a long of time in the wilderness on a diet of locusts and honey.
In Islam, an entire chapter (Surah) in the Qur’an is called an-Nahl (the Bees). According to his teachings (hadith), Muhammad strongly recommended honey for healing purposes. The Qur’an promotes honey as nutritious and healthy food, saying:
And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.
In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashanah. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashanah greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the new year.
In ancient Greek religion, the food of Zeus and the twelve Gods of Olympus was honey in the form of nectar and ambrosia.
If we look at the rock paintings of Mahadeo hills in ancient India, it shows the process of honey collection from the combs of bees. Mr Yashodhar Mathpal, an Indian archaeologist, painter, curator and Rock art conservationist also discovered various paintings in the rock cave in Bhimbetka, in South of Bhopal. It shows the importance of honey and the honey hunting in the rock bee colonies in that era. His views on these paintings are quite interesting that it belongs to the Mesolithic or earlier period between 15000 – 11000 B.C.E along with the activities of the stone-age humans. This painting depicts the honey drawn from semicircular combs sometimes covered by bees.
Honey in Ayurveda
Ayurveda stands for complete knowledge for a healthy life. In ayurveda, Honey is known by various names. These names get changes from one region to another. However, the most common names are madhu, makshika, madwikam, kshaudram, saradham, vantham, varadi, bringavantham and pushparasolbhavam.
The ancient Ayurveda medical science distributed it in eight types:-
1. Makshikam: Used in the treatment of eye diseases, hepatitis, piles, asthma, cough and tuberculosis
2. Bhraamaram: Used in the treatment when blood is vomited
3. Kshoudram: Used in the treatment of diabetes
4. Pauthikam: Used in the treatment of diabetes and urinary infection
5. Chathram: Used in the treatment of worm infestation, when blood is vomited and diabetes
6. Aardhyam: Effective for eye diseases, cough and anaemia
7. Ouddalakam: Increases taste and swarasudhi.Used in the treatment of leprosy and poisoning cases
8. Daalam: It increases digestion and helps in the treatment of cough, vomiting and diabetes.
Usage of Honey in Ayurveda:
Honey is considered very useful for both internal and external application in Ayurveda. It has been used for treatment of many diseases such as eye disease, cough, obesity, diabetes, vomiting, diarrhea, immunity for covid-19, hiccups, leprosy, worm infestation, asthma, healing wounds and many more.
How was honey stored in ancient times?
The evidence of storing honey is found in many civilizations. Mummies in Egypt were sometimes embalmed in honey, and often sarcophagi were sealed up with beeswax. Jars of honey were left in tombs as offerings the dead, to give them something to eat in the afterlife. One of our interesting stories to tell kids is that when King Tut’s tomb was open, a 2,000-year-old jar of honey was found.
The oldest representation of the relationship between man and bee dates back to the Neolithic period: it is a cave painting dating back to 7,000 BC, found on the walls of a Spanish cave in the Valencia region, showing a human figure collecting honey with the help of a basket.
Honey is the most nutritious and healthy food available on earth and it has religious, medicinal, and historical importance as food and medicine. The important factor is that choosing the right honey for your kitchen and dining is most important. Very few natural raw honey providers have a passion to hunt the honey as it requires a lot of traveling, physical labor, and operational expenses. However, yes the madness for being better is human nature and few people do it for this madness.
Eat Healthily, Stay Safe!!
Team – Wild Tales Honey
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