Millets or Siridhanyagalu is one of the oldest human foods and believed to be the first domesticated cereal grain. Though difficult to know exact origin, it’s widely accepted that millet was domesticated and cultivated simultaneously in Asia and Africa over 7000 years ago during the Neolithic Era, and then spread throughout the world as a staple food.
Millets finds mention in some of the oldest extant Yajurveda texts, identifying Foxtail millet (priyangava), Barnyard millet (aanava) and Black finger millet (shyaamaka), indicating that millet consumption was very common, pre-dating to 4500 BC, during the Vedic Civilization.Of frequent occurrence is the word `anna` which may not essentially mean rice, it denotes food in general.
Chinese legends attribute the domestication of millet to Shennong, the legendary Emperor of China.
Pearl Millet(Sajje) was domesticated in the Sahel region of West Africa, where its wild ancestors are found. Evidence for the cultivation of Pearl Millet in Mali dates back to 2500 BC and Pearl Millet is found in South Asia by 2300 BC.
The Hunza people living in the remote Himalayan foothills and known for their extraordinary health and longevity enjoy millet as their staple grain. They use it to make whole grain chapatti/roti, soups, and porridge.
We can find mention of Millets in ancient texts of Ramayana.
Sri S L Bhairappa who is a Saraswathi Samman awardee Kannada novelist mentions millets in his new novel Uttarakanda. The book is based on Ramayana.
There is a scene where Laxmana is cooking Araka and they learn the demise of their father Dasharatha, and Lord Rama has to give offering to appease the soul of his father the learned sages ask him to offer whatever he has been eating and they take the just cooked millet to the river and give it as an offering.
Not only that whenever they stay longer at some place Laxmana with the help of Sita cultivates millets.
One more instance to learn that millets were part of ancient cuisine/culture.
Thanks to Sri S L Bhyrappa from forgotten foods team.
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