Guest post by Drona Dewi
My grandma, I call her Budhiama (elderly mother in Nepali), who isn’t old but aging gracefully is actually an epitope of budhi (intelligence in Sanskrit). How many people get the chance of celebrating their birthday having their mother beside them? That one lucky soul is her son, my Tulobau (Big Uncle), 75 years old. Isn’t it a boon? At the age of 95, my Budhiama is physically fit and still moving about. However, the mother-son relationship is made possible because of a ‘catalyst’ which is the shree shakti (female energy), her loyal daughter-in-law, the illusionary Maya maa. Whatever simple habits that my Budhiama could live up to is because of the support system that she gets from her loving daughter-in-law, son and family.
When I was asked my opinion about sustainability 4 years ago, I wondered. I looked up the meaning of the word in a dictionary. According to Cambridge dictionary, sustainability is defined as ‘the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time’. According to Oxford dictionary, the synonym of sustain is ‘maintain, uphold’. I then decided to ‘study’ and re-search my family members and culture to understand the essence of sustainability. I then re-searched my grandma’s secret of longevity. What I realized: it was support, a long term one.
Something that our great grand parents have given us is the treasure and the simple living habits that made it last long – a cumulative wisdom. It could be simple as eating habits, dal-bhad (lentil-rice). Our staple food in Nepal is rice eaten with cooked lentils. Rice is nice, now that the weight loss industry has taken over, it has ruined the minds of many. People are opting for brown rice instead of local rice, which is source of amino acids and prebiotics for the body. Many are missing the fun of enjoying their meal because of fad diet in the name of ‘healthier’ lifestyle driven by media, is it sustainable? A sustainable diet should be suitable for all ages, great grand parents to great grandsons without harming the body and environment.
Personally, keeping my cumulative wisdom intact and not forgetting my roots, I noticed my family practiced this too. Food was God to us. In fact, offered food to the Lord is a daily practice. It has to be fresh, clean and not processed. It was never about good or bad food. It was a choice we make, to eat or not to eat. Maya ma never fails to feed her family home cooked food, offered to the Lord, thanking the food and eaten as Prasad (offered food). Sustainable living- one has to take into account of his fitness and my uncle grows his own and gets the other family members to harvest and be part of the routine, a system he has created where everyone are part of it. He supports the local farmers by visiting the wet market. Isn’t it amazing– supporting the whole ecosystem?
In this time of crisis, Covid-19 has taught us something valuable that is social distancing to flatten the curve. Honestly, my grandma has always practiced that. She picks her circle of family and friends. I remember her visiting our home only once in my lifetime, which was when my uncle left for India for a month. Other than that, she is happy in her own space, her bed, her room and her home. This lockdown didn’t affect her much other than having everyone at home, overwhelmed with love!
Another lesson of Covid-19 is the consumerism culture we uphold. Now, how can we reduce non-essential items in our lives and lifestyles? My granny has always practiced this. She is a minimalist. Contended with whatever she has and provided. She only demanded for – ‘kopi” time to time. Mother Earth is healing now, I’m glad to share that these simple habits at this crucial time, like saying a simple prayer before food, eating home cooked, supporting local farmers, eating local fruits and vegetables, growing own produce, reducing unprocessed food, mindful consumption of food, taking time to chew your food if practiced, can be perfected!