Science Now + Beyond

The science behind these 7 Desi cultural traditions will blow your mind

If you were brought up in a South Asian household, you probably grew up with endless cultural traditions. While we were taught to never question the logic behind them, we can all admit that at some point or other we wondered why we were doing some of these things.

However, some of the traditions we follow have legit scientific reasoning behind them.

1. Bindi is not just for beauty
[Image Description: A girl wearing a red bindi] Via Pop Xo
The bindi or the pottu which is worn or applied on the forehead is the ultimate symbol of beauty and femininity. However, it is not a mere accessory, as it is said to be a mark of a central nerve point between the brows, also known as “Ajan Chakra.” It applies a certain pressure on the nerve point which controls and heightens concentration and focus, while also easing the body of stress and anxiety.

No wonder we’re so smart!

2. Sleeping directions
[Image Description: A gif of a sleeping girl] Via Gfycat
Superstitions involving directions could create a whole new article,  the biggest no is sleeping with your head facing the North.  I always wondered why it would even matter? Well, it turns out that the earth’s magnetic fields are directed from North to South, and sleeping against the direction disrupts the body’s harmony with the magnetic waves, which affects our blood flow and the functioning of our brain cells.

So next time, check a compass before making your bed.

3. Hands over spoons
[Image Description: Gif of a girl eating street food with her hands, and licking her fingers] Via Buddy Mantra
Say what you want about etiquette, there’s nothing more satisfying than eating with your hands.

It’s also extremely healthy. There are a certain bacteria in our fingers which when swallowed along with food, aids in digestion. Vedic scriptures explain that eating with our hands makes dining a sensory experience, and it makes you more conscious of the taste. Also contrary to popular belief, it’s actually more hygienic than eating with any other utensil.

4. Bangles are the ultimate energy saver
[Image Description: A woman wearing bangles] Via The Modern Vedic
Bangles are beautiful, colorful and sometimes annoying if your wrists are full of them, and your arm movements feel robotic – or maybe it’s just me and my clumsiness. However, they are not just adornments but actually, increase the blood circulation. Besides, bangles revert the electricity and energy emitted from the skin back to our own bodies.

No wonder women at weddings are so energetic and hyper.

5. Sit down, be humble
[Image Description: A girl eating Indian food] Via Gfycat
I always thought that eating while sitting down on the floor is a matter of humility. But it has a lot of scientific benefits as well. On one end, it shapes you physically, helping you maintain posture, eases your body and strengthens muscle joints. When it comes to digestion, the constant back and forth movement increase the secretion of stomach acids and the food digests faster.

In short, by the time you finish eating, it’s as if you’ve done a yoga routine.

6. Piercings are not just about earrings
[Image Descriptions: An Indian girl wearing earrings] Via Nepally
I’ve often seen westerners grumble about the practice of piercing the ear of brown babies’ ears. The dangling earrings aside, ear piercings have other usages behind them. Susruta, an Indian surgeon, advocates ear-piercing by saying that it prevents diseases, regulates the menstrual cycle in girls and prevents hysteria. In addition, wearing earrings maintains the flow of current in the human body.

And of course, what’s more gorgeous than a jhumka?

7. The magic of mehendi
[Image Description: A woman is applying mehendi on a bride’s hands] Via Tumblr
To an outsider, mehendi or henna is just beautiful. You’ll only know how amazing it is when you have had it applied on your hands. Man, that smell and the cooling feel is a sensation to be experienced. The whole custom of applying mehendi to brides started because of its cooling effect, its ability to calm nerves and anxiety. Because who else would be more nervous than a desi bride at her wedding?

Yes, we South Asians are rooted in culture and tradition, but our ancient desi humans were obviously extremely smart. We seem to do everything by science and the above traditions are just a few examples. The next time someone finds our traditions funny or weird, you know what to say – it’s a shame that our superior scientific knowledge is years ahead of the rest of the world.

By Mishma Nixon

Mishma is originally from Sri Lanka, and is currently an undergraduate student at The University of Iowa. Majoring in English and Creative Writing with minors in Cinema and Social Justice, she hopes to create diverse and inclusive children's stories that she has always wanted to see. She is a textbook Hufflepuff who's obsessed with antiheroes/villains, Brooklyn 99, tea and 80's teen movies.

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