Accepted paper:

Food habit and food beliefs among the Kamars of Central India


Nilanjan Khatua (Anthropological Survey of India)

Paper short abstract:

The food and nutrition appears very simple phenomenon in our life, but for anthropologists, it is a cultural phenomenon. The anthropology of food focuses on the cultural and social significance of food and eating. This paper reveals the food habits and associated food beliefs among the Kamar, of Madhya Pradesh in Central India.

Paper long abstract:

In every human society food is deeply embedded in the social, religious and economic aspects. The present study reveals the food habits and associated food beliefs among the Kamar, traditional shifting cultivators and expert hunters of Central India. Presently, they have adopted settled cultivation, besides collection of minor forest produces, basketry, agricultural and forest labour, fuel wood and charcoal selling are other economic activities. The Kamar is a dominant scheduled tribe of Raipur district of Chhattisgarh state. According to Census of 1981, the total population of Kamar is 17,517 in Madhya Pradesh. The Kamar food is divided into two categories - Hot and Cold. The hot food consists of mango, cow milk, torai (ridge gourd) while the cold food consists of guava, crusted apple, papaya, banana, cucumber, pumpkin, buffalo milk and gourd. The flesh of goats, field rats and chicken are much appreciated by them. Wild fruits, plants roots and tubers form an important part of the diet. The Mahua liquor plays an important role. Consumption of green vegetables like pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima), bottle gourd (Langenria vulgaris), Kundru (Coccinia cordifolia) leads to diseases like malaria. Salty food is easily digestible and good for health; whereas sweet dishes make one inactive. Foods, bitter in taste, like neem (Azardirachta indica) and karela (Momordica charantia) are good for health, and act as antidote to snake-bite and hence they consume more of them.

panel PE28
Anthropology of food and nutrition in the globalized economy