Staple Food

Learning Goals:

  • Staple food in Bengal
  • Nation States in Europe

The Staple Food Fish and rice: Local availability of items determines the traditional food habits of people. Bengal is a riverine plain which produces lot of rice and fish. Hence these two items are a part of the diet of even the poor Bengalis. Fishing has always been an important occupation of people of the region. Even Bengali literature has several references to fish. Even aspects of architecture like terracotta plaques on temple walls and viharas (Buddhist monasteries) depict scenes of fish being dressed and taken to the market in baskets.

Though Brahamans were not allowed to eat non-vegetarian food, the popularity of fish in the local diet forced the Brahamanical authorities to waive this restriction for Bengali Brahamanas. A 13th century Sanskrit text from Bengal, the Brihaddharma Purana permitted the local Brahamans to eat certain fish varieties.

Nation States in Europe

People in Europe, till the 18th century, perceived themselves as subjects of an empire or members of a church. But there was another added perception in the late 18th century, when people began to identify themselves as the members of a community that spoke a common language such as French or German. Consequently, by the early 19th century

  • School textbooks in Rumania began to be written in Rumanian rather than in Greek and
  • Hungarian was adopted as the official language of Hungary instead of Latin.

Hence the consciousness regarding each linguistic community being a separate nation was created. The movements for Italian and German unification further strengthened this feeling in the late 19th century.


  • Pir: A Persian word for a spiritual guide.
  • Animism: Attribution of living souls to plants, animals and inanimate objects.
  • Mangalakavyas: Auspicious poems dealing with local deities.
Do You Know?
  • The Naths were ascetics who engaged in a variety of yogic practices.
  • Dharma Thakur is a popular regional deity in Bengal which is often worshipped in the form of a stone or a piece of wood.

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