Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nutrition in every Gulp ! - Key to healthy living


‘Nutrition’ is a word that has been lapped up by the present society with utmost fervor and inexplicable zeal. This nutrition concept which had been an integrated part of living in the days of our Acharyas and even our grandparents, has now assumed a very revered and ‘distinct’ position amongst us.

But we should remember that this new found infatuation with nutrition has not helped bridge the rift between diseased/ailment prone living and healthy / salubrious living. The primary reason for this is again our new found attraction towards the latest pseudo-healthy products inundating every visible shop in our vicinity. The plethora of advertisements in every possible media is culpable in this regard. A health specialist made a very thought-provoking comment in a famous daily .Here’s the exact wordings ‘ Eat anything that is made from a plant . Refrain from eathing anything made in a plant’ implying natural products are safe and products manufactured in Factories( Plant) are in some or the other way harmful. The amusing irony here is that we carefully choose the factory made eatables presuming they would nourish us !

To attain the ‘pink of the health’ status and built – to –last shareeram , the most important aspect is in seeking the remedy from amidst the innumerable products Namperumal has lovingly and aptly manufactured for us! When our birth followed the Rules laid by Him, when our body’s functioning follows the Blueprint designed by Him, when our growth pattern religiously adhered to his decree , then why ransack our Health by plunging into the quagmire of ‘artificial / away from Actual’ products ? Staying in absolute communion with the Namperumal developed world is the only elixir for the Nutrition seeker. And that’s what Srimaan Trust is precisely doing for the Gurukulam students.

The Gurukulam Students are a lucky lot. Well it is wrong to boast of the Trust being its volunteers but then this envy is quite irresistible for us ! Everyday, when we see the care and micro level attention tended to every thread of the children’s existence , thoughts of unfulfilled past clogs our hearts ( all written in utmost good spirit !) . The villainy of time has resulted in our being only volunteers of the Trust and the coveted status of ‘pupil’ has forever eluded us!

A day( we restrict this mail to the nutritional intake part alone) in the life of ‘Srimaan Bhattar Gurukulam’ child begins in salubrious style. Waking up to 3 glasses of power –packed 18 daanya (cereal,lentils,nuts) porridge(Kanji) at 6 :30 am, the child breezes through the early full meal at 9 :30 am. The 18 daanya kanji is one of the best breakfast option. Nutritionists are insisting on a very healthy breakfast to enhance the well – being of the body. Some of them go to the extent of placing the breakfast very close to waking up. This would provide the much starved ( 8 hrs of sleep!) body a real boost. And when the breakfast is brimming with nutrients like the 18 daanyams, what more to ask for ?

The full meal at 9 :30am is a more racy and action packed prequel to the routine afternoon sleep inducing lunch. An aromatic variety of vegetables often mixed together in unique manner acts as an appetizer to the child. After the Shastric prayer (Pariseshanam) and savoring the vegetable salad, the child is fed with vegetable filled kozhambu. What all vegetables missed the opportunity of gracing the salad cup earlier, find their venerable slot here. Isn’t it a baghyam to be swallowed by the mouth that unrelentingly utters the sacred Vedas, Stotras and Divya – Prabandham ?! Satramudhu is special in gurukulam. Each day the improvising Srivaishnava cook tries enriching it with fruits like pineapple, grapes and others. The fruits join the bandwagon in style.

Come the sultry noon, respite is offered through curd rice accompanied by vegetable stew ( koottu) and pickles made from fresh vegetables sans preservatives and spices. (Gurukulam offers only Sathvika aaharam. The Founder Acharya is very stringent in this regard).

At around 5pm ,with the sun setting and cool Cauvery breeze engulfing the Srirangam dwellers, the gurukulam child is handed a cup full of dry fruits comprising Almonds ( Badam), Raisins ( Dry draksha ), Walnuts (acroot), Cashews ( mundiri) and soaked Groundnuts. Soaked Groundnuts are very healthy and provide excellent stamina. Another cup of a different variety of porridge also features in the 5pm session.

The dinner is very simple following the sastric saying ‘Breakfast like a kind, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’. This is another key to healthy living. The dinner, though simple ,is again nutrient centric. If dosai is made , it won’t be like the ones made routinely by us. Children love seeing and handling colours and we fulfill their wish with our culinary art. Variety of vegetables are added to the night meal be it dosai or idli or adai. When adais are prepared , a mixture of danyams are also added to provide the child with utmost nourishment. The 18 daanya adai is our speciality!

A cup of pure cow milk sums up the days nutrient intake. The protein rich milk is a must for growing children as protein is required for the body to repair tissues and preserve youth.

Apart from this dynamic routine, the Gurukulam has designed a chart to incorporate herbal medicines in the daily routine of students. Every Tuesday and Saturday the child  is given Kalisadhi Choornam. Thursdays are meant for Ashwagandhi Choornam . Everyday Nilavembu Kudineer is administered;Nilavembu builds up enormous resistance and guards the body from frequent fever & other infections.

How has this tailor-made nutrition  plan benefited the gurukulam children ? In a recent Dental Check up camp , the orthodontists were pleasantly surprised to find a negligible no. of students with dental problems. 95% of the children had a good dental health. The regular kashayam intake has proved a grand success in deterring foreign bodies from attacking the children. Frequent fever,cold,cough have become the rarest phenomenon in the Gurukulam children. Another splendid benefit of the nutrition plan is that the children readily eat and drink whatever is offered by the Trust ( unlike our protesting children back home). The children are seldom fatigued and are very active throughout the day.

A question may crop up in the minds of some /all of you. Being children of Gurukulam , will this cuisine not make them fall prey to the taste buds ? Well, do we think in this angle when it comes to our Children? Do we make bland food for them and cut down on tasty items? We cant imagine doing so. Its the same with these Gurukulam children. Their non-affluent background has resulted in their missing out the joy of childhood all these years. Now, they have become our Children and we shall leave no stone unturned in fulfilling the Parents role that we've assumed.

In this effort we also entreat you to play your role as a parent to these Children. The joy of assuming the role of guiding children other than ours is beyond the realm of words ! Do join us in this wonderful experience !

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