Is cooking feminine?
Question: Udayji, why in Hinduism do females must cook at home? Is cooking feminine? What do our ancients say about cooking in general?
Men can also cook. Hinduism does not prohibit them to do so. The most famous cook in the world was Nala, the king of the Nishadha Kingdom and the son of Veerasena. Nala is known for his culinary expertise. He married princess Damayanti, of the Vidarbha Kingdom.
Mahabharata says that he cooked daily for his wife because he knew the art of cooking. Additionally, Nala was the first ever person to have written a book on cookery called the “Pakadarpana”. His Pakasatra (the science of cooking) was documented in that book which contains 24 folios. Nala’s culinary repertoire was so well known that eventually, the word Nalapaka became a synonym in India for excellence in culinary arts.
Another famous cook was Bhimasena, the second brother among Pandavas. While he spent his time in King Virat’s palace in disguise he was a cook named Vallaba (Valala). His duty was to prepare food for so many people and especially for King and his men and family- He should be a good cook!
Supasatra is another name for the science of cooking. Bhojanakutuhala (science and art of cooking) is a typical Sanskrit work that deals with the principles of dietetics and culinary art. The concept of dieting can also be seen even in the Annasukta of Rigveda. The Sanskrit sources of ancient India indicate eminent contributions in the field of dietetics (Pathyapathya-nirnaya) and in the science and art of cooking (Pakasastra and Pskakals).
I don’t know if some scriptures insist on female cooking. Dharmasutras of Apasthambha also talk about the male cook. “The cook should refrain from speaking, coughing, or sneezing while facing the food. Should he touch his hair, body, or garment, he should wash with water,” it says.
However, Vyasa Smriti discusses cooking by the wife, though it doesn’t explicitly say cooking as a female job like this: “Having finished cooking, she should report of it to her husband saying, ” the rice is cooked.” The husband having made offerings therewith to the Vishvadevas, she should first feed the children, and then serve out the morning meal to her husband.”
Now, to answer your question, “Is cooking a man’s or a woman’s job?”, cooking is a job for whoever is hungry. Cooking is only considered feminine to men who can’t cook or don’t want to cook. For, cooking is not done with the genitalia.
Cooking is a survival skill very essential for both men and women in their lifetime. It should be taught in the family without gender discrimination. In the modern world, in the family, it would be better if one cooks the spouse should take care of cleaning the vessels and utensils as the latter is tougher task than the former. (Message No – 331)
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