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Our grandmothers lived in simpler times, and led lives that were vastly different from us. Here’s a list of lessons we can learn from them, and adapt to use in our daily lives!
We may think of our grandmothers as outdated, orthodox, and behind the times as they lived in a different era, where the roles of men and women were traditionally defined. But, what we forget is, in a time when the machine age had not arrived and healthcare was not as advanced as it is now, they managed to stay healthy and survived without modern aids. Most importantly, they led a satisfied and relatively stress-free life.
What is it that they did to be able to live such a beautiful life? Perhaps, grandmothers do know best! Here are some invaluable lessons that we can learn from the wisdom and experience of our grandmothers:
I have never seen my grandmother keep up late or lolling in bed. Our grandmothers never had any fancy watches or gadgets but they had tremendous self-discipline. They woke up at dawn not with an alarm clock, but by their body clock. Waking up on time was possible because they always slept on time. They always saw the sunrise as the night turned into day.
They did their morning rituals – prayers, making tea and breakfast for the family and puja – all in the peace and tranquillity of the morning. As they always got off to a bright and positive start, it set the trend for the rest of the day. They were less grumpy, looked good, felt good, and remained healthy.
They adhered strictly to a regular routine – whether it was their sleep, morning walk, bath and meal at set times, visiting the temple or shopping. A fixed routine helped them gain a sense of control over their lives.
They stocked the house with essentials so that items did not run out and there was no running-around at the last moment. They were methodical in their approach and kept things in the right place so that they did not waste time in finding them when needed – my grandma could always find things like her glasses, even in the dark, because she always had a designated place for each thing.
While ‘organic’ is the new buzzword; our grandmothers were already practising this in their life. There was neither processed food nor the trend of eating out. In fact, there were no refrigerators in most homes until about mid 60s! So, no food got stored, to be eaten stale. Food was always cooked and eaten fresh and hot. While cooking, no preservatives were used, as spices were freshly made in a mortar and pestle or a grinding stone. The diet was healthy and balanced and consisted of a lot of raw food, fruit, seasonal and green leafy vegetables, lentils and sprouts.
Pickles, papads, moramba (Indian mango jam) and other relishes were all made at home annually. Our grandmothers not just ate fresh, but they preserved and passed down some of the priceless traditional family (and their personal) recipes.
As there were no machines to do the housework, they did work like cleaning, laundry etc that involved stretching and bending. There were fewer kitchen gadgets, so work like churning butter, grating on a wooden grater, winnowing the grain, milling and sifting flour (sitting on the floor) kept them physically active.
There were lesser vehicles, so they had to walk wherever they had to go, which kept them fit.They remained mentally occupied in activities like knitting, crochet, reading, and celebrated festivals with fervour.
Get-togethers on religious occasions like Haldi kumkum and Mangala Gauri gave women an opportunity or an excuse to socialize by visiting each other looking their very best, to play games like phugadi, zhimma, ukhane, and sing traditional songs. They also enjoyed stage plays and attending bhajans and kirtans, which was their spiritual stimulation.
They never took over-the-counter medicines like we sometimes do. They believed in the healing power of nature, and had home remedies for almost everything – kadha (herbal medicinal tea) to fight coughs and colds (we gulped down the preparation made by our grandma who told us to hold our nose as it did not have a great odour or taste, but gave great relief!), warm milk with a pinch of turmeric before bedtime for a sore throat, eucalyptus oil for a runny nose, carom seeds for tummy ache, clove oil for toothache, turmeric paste for little scratches or wounds and smoke of burnt neem leaves to keep the mosquitoes away.
We can take a lesson or two from these, as we are sometimes reluctant to use old grandma’s remedies because they take time to prepare and do not cure instantly. However, it is worth appreciating that a lot of this wisdom has come from the age-old Ayurvedic form of medicine, and even the West is now adopting these practices. We need to realize the importance of preserving the heritage passed down from our grandmothers.
Today, we have resources to look good or younger, e.g. hair dye to cover our greys, cosmetic procedures like Botox to fight wrinkles and crow’s feet, or even cosmetic surgeries to improve appearance! All these can have side-effects and drastic consequences, which we risk for the sake of looking good.
Our grandmas did not resort to artificial means or harmful chemicals; they simply accepted the changes that ageing brought. They welcomed smile lines with a grin! At most, they advised a regular oil hair massage, use of time-tested beauty aids such as gram flour mixed with curd, turmeric and sandalwood paste, multani mitti, ambe halad, and daruhalad, for soft and glowing skin.
Our grandmas lived a simple life because they had less money and material possessions. This made them value things, and they bought only what was needed and made full use of them. My grandma did not know about recycling, but she never threw any empty bottle or any container; it was washed, dried and reused. As they had limited choices, it made their lives easier and simpler .They had no television, or only one T.V channel, so there was more time for constructive activities and communication between family members.
Since there were no mobile phones or internet, there was more person-to-person conversation, family bonding , letter writing and correct use of language.Due to our addiction to gadgets, we have forgotten those simple pleasures. Machines like vacuum cleaners and washing machines have today made work easier, but also made us physically inactive.
Lesser choices and possessions made their minds and lives less cluttered. Their life was slow-paced, they were physically more active, they slept better, could focus on what mattered, and could enjoy the simple joys of life.
It is impractical to live the life that they lived, as we have to move with the changing times. However, it is important to learn, imbibe, and adapt these lessons into our modern life.
Our grandmothers lived in a different age and their lifestyles were very different. It is impractical to live the life that they lived, as we have to move with the changing times. However, it is important to learn, imbibe, and adapt these lessons into our modern life. Today, although we have more of everything than our grandmothers, we also have more stress (unheard of, then)and less of two of the most important things they had – contentment and peace of mind. These lessons are the greatest legacy our grandmothers have given us.
This post was first published here.
Pic credit: Image of smiling senior woman via Shutterstock.
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