The novel Coronavirus has definitely brought a lot of changes in our lifestyle and mostly for good. Be it maintaining proper hygiene, taking care of our eating habits, cutting down on unnecessary expenses, or simply showing gratitude and living in the present moment, this pandemic has made us feel born again to a different kind of world .There is no denying to the fact that many of us find it really hard to accept the “new normal” as we call it today because we had probably never even imagined that a pandemic would make us consider living a much more sustainable and fruitful life. But here is a State that needed no pandemic to remind its people that life is much more enjoyed amidst nature and in a clean, hygiene environment. God’s own Country as it is popularly known, Kerala has been following this “new normal” routine since past many decades!
Before I begin to enlist some of the most effective habits that are found in Kerala households, I would like to mention that I am born, brought up and have lived good 29 years of my life in Delhi. It is only until last year that I shifted to Kerala and therefore my perspective of this place comes from my experience of staying here. Coming from a totally different city and culture, there were certain aspects about living in Kerala that really took me to surprise but now when I reflect on those, I do feel the importance and a great need to imbibe these into our daily lives no matter which part of the world we belong to.
1) Washing feet before entering the house
The first thing that I noticed while entering any house in Kerala is the footwear lying outside the premises and people walking barefoot inside. What was really surprising to me was that not only the residential buildings but also the banks, doctor’s clinics, and some garment stores too follow the same practice. I guess this is the reason why the floors here look absolutely spic and span.
Considering the present situation we are going through, it is very important to keep germs and dirt at bay. This particular habit of taking off our shoes outside before entering the house can ensure that the dirt does not enter along with us. Another traditional habit to be imbibed is the habit of washing feet with a dispenser called kindi. In olden days every household had a kindi placed in the front of their house so that people entering the house can clean their feet and wash off the germs.
2) Nurturing your own garden
It is really very hard to imagine any household in Kerala without a garden. The plants and the humans literally coexist in the same place and garden is one of the most important spots of any house in Kerala. The home grown fruits and vegetables , the tall coconut trees, the famous chakka (jackfruit) trees and over a hundred varieties of plants add more beauty to the already beautifully built houses here. No wonder it is named God’s own Country because god truly resides here in the lap of nature and greenery all around. Not only do the plants and trees provide a scenic beauty to the area but they also give purely organic veggies and fruits that help boost one’s immunity and thereby maintain good health.
3) Using disposable yet environmentally friendly plates
Now what is the most obvious thing that comes to your mind when you think of Kerala? Banana chips? Yes, and not to forget banana leaf. Yes, the very eco friendly, no cost substitute for any plate here is banana leaf which is available all over this place. The most popular Onasadya (the grand Onam feast) is incomplete if it is not served on a banana leaf .
This leaf not only adds to the health benefit of eating food on the most naturally accessible source by retaining the food nutrients but it also helps save a lot of time doing the dishes. Now that’s quite a bonus!
4) Maximum use of steel utensils
Given the variety of food being cooked here (yes, it’s not limited to dosas and idlis !), every food item has a specially designed utensil specifically made to prepare that dish. We get puttu maker, appam pan and loads of other big, small utensils but mostly made of high quality stainless steel. People here believe in the power of Steel. The fancy looking colorful yet chemically coated non stick pots and pans have never been able to replace the traditional and healthy way of cooking food in Kerala.
5) Eating freshly cooked meals
As mentioned above, there are a plenty of food options available here and therefore, one does not have to rely on packaged food to serve their hunger pangs. Think of breakfast alone and there you go with options such as
kadala putt, potato stew with appams, upma, dosas, idlis, and so on. Now who would like to eat breakfast cereals, breads and other processed food when freshly prepared piping hot food is right on the table? Yes, it takes time to prepare these elaborate food items and definitely requires some amount of planning in advance but it is worth every effort when compared to eating food that is so high on preservatives.
6) Relying on ayurveda
The word Ayurveda is used synonymously with Kerala. Being one of the most sought after places for Ayurvedic treatment, Kerala has made an incredible impact on preserving and utilizing the most ancient science of medicine in India. In almost every household, one gets to witness some or the other Ayurvedic medicine for treating common forms of illness and not to forget the extraordinary power of spices that alone help in relieving so many problems. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that people here take the famous quote “Food thy medicine” extremely seriously.
7) Living in a clutter free home
The houses in Kerala are undoubtedly spacious but what really adds to the space here is the culture of going minimalist when it comes to buying furniture and other home accessories. We all know the amount of stress clutter adds to our lives and so the option of saving some amount of space in the house can really bring some peace into our lives.
I really hope that the points mentioned above help some of us introspect a bit about how we could alter our lifestyle by adopting certain habits that our Southern State has been following since a very long time and thereby make some positive amendments in our lives which would help change the World for good.
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