In 2014, June, I came to Brooklyn from India to live with my wife Carrie, to start a new life. A fortnight after, we went to see the house in Catskill mountains, which became our house and has since given us a new life. The beautiful house is in a small property speckled with gardens and birds while they watch the wall of Manitou, otherwise known as the start of the Catskill Mountain range. Head extending to South and legs to Northern Appalachian mountain ranges, the mountain peaks viewed from afar look like a human form lying on its front looking upwards at the limitless sky, Water as streams and rivers flow from its body to join the legendary Hudson river. Traveling South to reach the Atlantic from where it evaporates into rain clouds, wind returning them back to the mountains to become rain and flow back into streams and rivers. Catskill is located within this water cycle. Catskill lives in the land where mountains, winds and water are in a constant natural game of regeneration.
As author Washington Irving in his famous story, Rip Van Winkle, wrote;
“Whoever has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Kaatskill Mountains. They are a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian family, and are seen away to the west of the river, swelling up to a noble height, and lording it over the surrounding country. Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains, and they are regarded by all the good wives, far and near, as perfect barometers. When the weather is fair and settled, they are clothed in blue and purple, and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky; but sometimes, when the rest of the landscape is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits, which, in the last rays of the setting sun, will glow and light up like a crown of glory” https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rip-Van-Winkle-short-story-by-Irving
Across the Road, on Route 32, our house is overlooked by a beautiful statue of Madonna made of white cement, standing alone inside an arch built on a platform lovingly made of rocks surrounded by a garden of flowers and decorative plants. Standing there in the vastness of the valley extends the mountains, she looks at our home where the Sun rises and begin its journey to disappear among the mountains behind her.
When we first visited this magical spot we heard the name Atina. From no where the name just came to our mouths, later we found that it is the Mohican name of ATINA, who is the CORN MOTHER GODDESS. There are two internet sites http://www.native-languages.org/mother-corn.htm and http://www.indigenouspeople.net/motherco.htm which give good information about the origin of the story of Atina.
Carrie and I spent many decades in media and culture industry and never practiced growing food or making it for ourselves and others for a living. This practical living was totally new for us. While I have always cooked food, ever since I can remember as a five year old boy assisting womenfolk in the family, I had never ventured out to grow own food, cook and share it with others. Also, moving to upstate New York without formal employment was tough decision for us. It is hard to get a regular job, especially for new migrant like me.
We prayed to Goddess Atina, planted some mustard seeds and started cooking food for our friends and they encouraged us tremendously which led us to participate in the Catskill Farmer’s markets to see whether people really like our food. That was August 2015. More than three years and today Atina Foods is appreciated and sought out by many people wherever it is available.
One important question our consumers ask is what is the relation between Atina Goddess and the food produced by us under claims of being traditional and Ayurvedic? If we put the same question in a different way, people are asking us to define what is the relation between Native American Goddess name Atina and one of the oldest living system of medicine, Ayurveda. There are many ways these two are related, I will outline a few below.
One of the important message that we learn from the story of Atina Goddess, is that all those who dwell on this planet are connected through several cycles of interdependencies of sharing and caring. Human beings are natural beings bestowed with a wonderful gift called “ life” like all other beings, to live here from the produces of this Earth, a drop of water in the limitless universe. Earth, a drop of water where few landmass floats on it is a picture NASA describe about Earth where water remain a constant since its formation in Earth. https://pmm.nasa.gov/education/articles/earth-observatory-water-cycle-overview
Ayurveda as a system of medicine looks at human beings as natural beings bestowed with wonderful gift “Life”, to live happily with all other beings in the habitat based on principles of caring and mutual respect, not just among human beings, but with everything and everyone around. Ayur veda consists of two words Ayur means Life and Veda as Knowledge, together this Life Knowledge are treatise recorded by women and men over a long period on ideas, principles and practices how to make this wonderful experience. Life, a happy journey from eternity to eternity.
As a system of medicine Ayurveda focus on the physical world of Life, while leaving other meta physical aspects of it to other systems of Knowledge. For various reasons this ancient system of medicine survived unlike Native American / Mohican systems of Medicine in their fights against colonialism. Though I am living in their land, I know very little about the Mohican Indians before the European settlers arrived. But looking at the vast Native American knowledge traditions and practices by many women and men reveals a great continuing tradition of Medicine Women and Men, and a natural system of medicine practiced for thousands of years.
The philosophical foundation of the Native American system of Medicine cannot be anything other than what Ayurveda represents.
One of the foundation principles of Ayurveda is that every habitat has its own food and medicine and human beings are naturally given the gift of identifying what is good and what needs to be rejected. Thus fundamental functional ability of the physical body is directed by set of natural laws and systems.
Our Food products are based on food making practices followed by many generations of women and men and well recorded in many texts of Ayurveda which look at the integral living of Food as Medicine and Medicine as Food. We use ingredients that are natural herbs, spices and preservatives to preserve vegetables as natural pickles or cook them into jams and condiments in a style which retain all the potencies of the ingredients to give many health benefits for the user.
Practicing the integral relationship of Eating The Food That’s Good For You, as daily practice, not separate.
More to come!