Exploring The Religious Significance Of Food In India
Image Credit: Pomegranate | Image Credit: Unsplash.com

Pomegranate, also known as "anar" in Hindi, is not just a fruit with a juicy and tangy taste; it is also a symbol of prosperity and fertility, not just in Hindu culture but also in Greek and Persian mythology.

Food plays a significant role in Indian religion and culture and is seen as a way to honor the gods during many Hindu rituals and ceremonies. Food is also seen as a way to connect with the divine and is used in many rituals and ceremonies.

But the pomegranate is not the only food that holds religious significance in India; there are also some other foods that hold a special place in Indian culture.

Exploring the Symbolism of the Pomegranate in India

The pomegranate is a round, red fruit with a tough skin and many edible seeds within. It is native to the Middle East and South Asia and is commonly used in Indian cuisine. This fruit is highly symbolic in Hinduism and is frequently used in rituals and poojas. It is believed to represent fertility, abundance, and prosperity, making it an important symbol of Indian culture and religion.

Historical Significance of the Pomegranate in Hinduism

In Hindu mythology, the pomegranate is associated with Lord Ganesha, the god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles. It is believed that Lord Ganesha loves pomegranates and that offering them to him can help one overcome obstacles and achieve success.

In the Ramayana, Lord Hanuman, who is also called the "Monkey God," tries to eat the sun because he thinks it is a pomegranate.

The pomegranate is also seen in one hand of Bhoomi Devi, the Hindu goddess of fertility and motherhood, who is also a personification of Mother Earth. Depictions show the goddess with four hands, and in them she holds a pomegranate in one, a water jar in another, a bowl of medicinal herbs in another, and a bowl of vegetables in yet another.

The Science Behind Religious Belief

Science has revealed that pregnant women can greatly benefit from drinking pomegranate juice. It's important for expecting mothers to get enough folic acid in their diets, and this food is a great place to get it. Pomegranate juice's anti-inflammatory effects help the baby grow and develop by keeping the blood flowing freely.

Additionally, the potassium in this juice can alleviate the common discomfort of leg cramps during pregnancy. When pregnant women drink it frequently, the chance of having a baby who is born too early or too small is lowered.

Exploring Other Foods of Religious Significance in India

In addition to the pomegranate, there are many other foods of religious significance in India, such as:


Rice is seen as a symbol of fertility and abundance and is often used in Hindu rituals and ceremonies. It is also used in poojas to honor the gods and is seen as a way to bring prosperity and good luck.


The text "Durga Saptashati" describes Durga saying that the demon Mahishasur will only roar while she is drinking honey, right before she kills him. Then, the gods will roar as she finishes killing him.

Jujube (or Ber)

In the Ramayana, a woman named Shabri, who was a devoted follower of Rama and wanted him to eat only the best ber fruits, is said to have tasted one before offering it to Ram.


This beverage is strongly associated with the widely celebrated Maha Shivratri. It is believed that Lord Shiva drank Thandai to calm his throat during "Samundra Manthan," so on this day, devotees of Shiva all over the world partake in this ritual.

Makhan (butter) Mishri

Lord Krishna is given this sweet treat on Janmashtami because he is also known as a "Makhan Chor," or butter thief, due to his habit of stealing the butter from his mother and grandmother when he was a child.


Considered to be a symbol of auspiciousness and often offered to gods and goddesses in Hindu temples, where it is believed that offering coconuts to him can help one overcome obstacles and achieve success.


Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi are honored with bananas as an offering. Vishnu and Lakshmi, it is believed, take pleasure in the fruit and bestow upon their devotees a prosperous marriage, plenty of material goods, and overall happiness in their homes.


Milk, in Indian culture and religion, is considered to be pure and is often used in Hindu rituals and ceremonies. In Hinduism, especially in the practice of yoga, the cow is respected and seen as a symbol of motherly love and devotion, and its milk is seen as pure and holy.


Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is a staple in Indian cuisine and holds a special place in Indian culture and religion. During the Hindu festival of Diwali, it is a common practice to offer ghee lamps to the gods and goddesses as a symbol of light and purity. People think that eating ghee while fasting can help clean the body and mind and bring blessings and luck.

Sesame Seeds

In Hindu mythology, sesame seeds are associated with the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. It is believed that offering sesame seeds to her can help attract prosperity and good luck.


Jaggery, also known as "gur" in Hindi, is a traditional, unrefined sugar that is made from sugarcane juice. It is used in many Hindu rituals and ceremonies as a symbol of auspiciousness.

The Significance of the Pomegranate in Other Indian Religions and Cultures


A small pomegranate, given to the Buddha by a poor old woman, is said to have brought him great joy. Legend has it that he offered a pomegranate to the demon Hariti, who had a penchant for eating children, and thus cured her of her appetite for human flesh. As one of the three "blessed fruits" in Buddhism, the pomegranate enjoys special reverence, the other two being peaches and citrus fruits.


Numerous religious paintings by artists like Leonardo da Vinci feature pomegranates, usually held by Mary or the infant Jesus. The open, shattered fruit represents the completeness of his death and resurrection.


Pomegranates can be found in the Islamic belief system's "gardens of paradise." There is no way to know for sure which aril in a pomegranate actually originated in paradise, so eating every seed is vital, according to legend. It is said that Prophet Mohammed advised his followers to eat pomegranates to protect themselves from negative emotions like envy and hatred.

Foods like the pomegranate are unique symbols of Indian culture and religion. These symbols are based on scientific principles and knowledge that have been gathered over thousands of years.