YOGA & The Pizza Effect

The Pizza industry is a multi billion dollar industry with the US accounting for nearly $60 billion of it. Originally, pizza was looked down upon in Italy as the poor man’s (peasants) food: it was just simple unleavened bread with a little tomato sauce for taste on top of it. When the early emigrants made their way to Amriga,creativity which normally arises when there is disposable income occurred, the Italian immigrants applied this creativity and started to garnish their unleavened bread with cheese, olives, peppers, various meats, and so on, thereby completely transforming the original into a kind of a desirable and delectable meal. After decades this made its triumphant return to the land of its origin,ITALY,suddenly overnight it became a highly respected dish on the menu of even the most eminent high brow restaurants. The new product was eagerly accepted and even given pride of place in Italian cuisine. Lack of confidence in one’s own culture, combined with the blind acceptance of all things new and foreign, often results in a phenomenon that social scientists call the “Pizza Effect,” a phrase that was coined in as late as 1970 by an anthropologist at the Syrcuse university named Agehananda Bharati(original name Leopold Fischer). Another word used to describe this is re-enculturation.

When Hinduism was first conceived in the West as a monolithic religious tradition, around the turn of the Nineteenth century by British colonist, the tradition that returned to India caught everyone’s imagination and the fancy idea that Hinduism was a single religion caught on. Originally, in India, of course, no separate religion called Hinduism ever existed. Rather, there were numerous religious traditions, from Vaishnavism to Shaivism, Shaktism, and a host of other sectarian religions. When invading British Imperialists lumped all these religions together for convenience(of a daft British clerk), many indigenous “Hindus” embraced the idea as if it were something that existed there all along time immemorial.

Yesterday was Yoga Day and a day which essentially taps into the “fomo” (FOMO= Fear of Missing out) insecurity of many Indians who mostly restricted themselves to exercise such as changing Channels from boring TV News channels to Star Sports and tying ones shoe lace. It gained prominence when PM Modi persuaded the United Nations to dedicate a day to remember what the world does not wish to forget on other days in any case (I have seen more Yoga Studios in Frankfurt than in Rishikesh and I am not even exaggerating here). Yoga attracted many a ‘god fearing’ Indian after the famous quote of the man who actually managed to break the stranglehold of Yoga (which was a preserve of a privileged few) and exported it to the west, B.K.S.Iyengar of Shivaji Nagar, Pune famously once said “How can you be so arrogant to think you can see God when you cant even see your own Right Toe?”

Yoga,Meditation,Satyajit Ray films, Bhagavad Gita, Indian spirituality, Theosophical Society and Chicken Tikka Masala are all textbook examples of the “Pizza Effect”!