Did Sita Devi cook personally, or supervise a kitchen at Ayodhya? Did the threesome, Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sita Devi, live off only fruit and roots, or did they sometimes eat cooked food? Did Sita Devi spend all her time in Valmiki’s Ashram in prayer or did she cook for her sons? Did she visit her father’s kitchens in Mithila?
I suppose these questions are occur naturally to a woman reading the Ramayanam, where the routes, nature, battles, conversations and everything else is described except Sita Devi cooking. (This is In the Gita Press Critical Editon. Maybe other versions have descriptions). Also all indications are that Rama ate Rice, Barley and Pulses which are the Vedic Foods – Supa (a soup of lentils and roots like the modern sambar or caru) and Anna (Cooked Rice), and not Chapathis etc. (which are modern north Indian food).
So some people set off in search for the Sthala Puranas describing Sita Devi’s kitchens. Let’s see what they have found…
Source and Reference : In Ayodhya, an elaborate Sita’s Kitchen lies abandoned behind locked gates. Elsewhere in India, however, a number of Sita’s Kitchens still function as sites of pilgrimage and devotion. Janmasthana Sita Rasoi – is one of the two kitchens in Ayodhya that survived 1992. The Rasoi shrine is in the basement and quite beautiful. It has on the floor three tiles patterned in green, white, and black a concrete-block sitting place; a concrete-and-tile rolling board; and a molded-concrete rolling pin. Near the back wall is an oven (chulha), and above it is a shrine to Sita. The panda described the Janmasthana as the place where Rama was nurtured and spent most of his childhood, and he said that the kitchen was where Sita cooked her first meal for Rama’s father, Dasharatha.
Bharadvaja Ashram, near Prayag – there was no rasoi to be seen but the pandas did say that she cooked there.
Chitrakut, near Lalapur, Allahabad, there is a place marked Sita Rasoi. Sita cooked for her sons, Kusha and Lava, while at Valmiki’s Ashram. Visible near the cave is an ancient, and now dry, path made by running water, a factor that would have made it a good kitchen place. Kamadgiri Sita Rasoi : Sita Rasoi. This small structure, which is built of stone and painted white, commemorates Sita’s cooking for Rama and Lakshmana, at Chitrakut, during the first vanavas. At the shrine’s entrance are what looks like a grinding stone and a board for rolling dough. Within the shrine is a rolling pin and, built into the back wall, a chulha.
Brahmavarta, near Bithur, Uttar Pradesh, Many of the utensils that a good cook needs are placed around Sita and on the shelves below: along with the chulha, the writer could identify a long-handled wooden instrument possibly used for stoking the fire, a grinding stone, leaves, a rolling pin, and a rolling board. This Sita Rasoi has more kitchen utensils than the others the writer visited, and, surprisingly, they were modern and functional.
Nasik, in Maharashtra : Sita Sansara : Beneath the shade of five banyan trees is indeed a cave dedicated to Sita which was Sita’s hiding place. There are some recent painted images of Sita Cooking etc across the street. (I think I have seen something similar in the Panchavati at Bhadrachalam, but my visit was long time ago).
The traveller-writer then theorises about the symbolism of kitchen etc and takes no interest in the real kitchens. In the Valmiki Ramayanam Aranyakanda Sarga 73 : This Version: Kabanda tells Rama, how Lakshmana would be able to bake birds on skewers made of iron on the way to Sabari’s Asrama. This does not say specifically that Rama and Lakshmana actually did bake meat.
So did Sita cook? Further research may clarify..
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