MANJRI SHARMA muses on how the pandemic with its endless lockdowns forced families to stay grounded at home, but in the process made family mealtimes into super happy events
No one would have ever thought in their wildest dreams that a pandemic of the proportion we have now seen would ever hit the globe. But it did and proved to be a challenge for everyone with schools, colleges, offices, markets, and restaurants closed for months on end. People were forced to stay at home in a desperate bid by governments to stop the spread of the virus. Families suddenly found themselves isolated together at home, many of them without help in the kitchen.
But one good thing did come out of it. It gave parents a chance to spend quality time with their children, and their parents. With eating out being suddenly curtailed, and with so much time on their hands, many families experimented with food. Cooking turned out to be the ideal way to beat the stress generated by these uncertain times. People always seek comfort in food. More cooking was done than ever before. Everyone was suddenly trying out something new and then finding great pleasure in sharing it with the family.
All of a sudden, youtube videos on food were being shared as swiftly as family favourites were being traded on WhatsApp chats. This turned out to be a pleasure, while at the same time creating a positive and a nurturing environment for families to sit together and share tasty tidbits, not just in terms of food, but also in terms of family memories and anecdotes stressing on love and togetherness. In that camaraderie, family members forgot past grievances and concentrated on forgiveness.
Many a stressful situation was thus averted by sitting down to eat family dinners together. Just the act of eating together created a sense of belonging, security and love during these tough times. Many now realized the value of this old adage: “The family that eats together, stays together.”
Food is tied to tradition and memories and is the binding force that brings people together to chat and laugh. It fortifies family ties, and it brings people and cultures together. It is also the main focal point of a gathering of friends, for both the company and the meal counts. These gatherings establish a foundation for friendship and serve as special bonding experiences that create positive feelings. Food is always a big part of all celebrations and is the main attraction of any gathering.
Food breaks the ice everywhere. The ambience in a seminar and business meeting becomes distinctly lighter at lunch and dinner, which facilitates business deals and collaborations. Socializing has always been important for one’s physical and mental wellbeing.
We are lucky in India, with each state serving up plenty of regional favourites and this gives us so many reasons to celebrate with different flavours.
This global pandemic and countless lockdowns may have depleted economies, but family bonds were cemented. It was after ages that various generations of families – grandparents, children and grandchildren had to stay indoors under the same roof, round the clock, and this helped to deepen relationships. Gathering around the dining table for all three meals gave everyone extra time together. With domestic servants also disappearing, it meant that people came together to cook and share all other chores, too, in the kitchen. As a result, family unity soared.
Manjri Sharma, who lives with her family in Rishikesh, is a homemaker. She loves nature and everything about it. Travelling is her hobby. She also enjoys gardening.