A Good Tibetan Habit—Licking the Bowl


The family motto and rules of Tibetan Jiarong People perfectly define the meaning of frugality, which is the bas...

The family motto and rules of Tibetan Jiarong People perfectly define the meaning of frugality, which is the basic requirement for one to serve as a real person and raise a family, and has been deep-rooted in the Tibetan folk social life. It subconsciously influences every Tibetan person. Tibetans have been brought up this way. For example, after eating, they will lick their bowls and clean the remains. This good habit has been preserved and passed since the ancient times.

As the basis of their family culture and concept of value, Tibetan proverbs have so many sentences that cover the promotion and spreading of the idea of frugality, such as what Sajia Motto records: If wealth grows rapidly, the person will face extreme conditions soon; a pond filled with running water will either break or be drained dry; if you save too much money, your money will turn into the murderer to end your life; the wealthy often encounter disasters, but beggars are usually safe and sound; you will pick up money on the road if you eat overcooked steamed bread; labor is the right hand of happiness, and frugality is the left hand of it. Words like this all address frugality, the ultimate happiness. If you squander, all the wealth created through labor will be wasted. At home, the seniors are opposed to the action of dumping away the food remains the most. The most important rule is to lick the bowl and make it shining clean. Grains are obtained bit by bit through labor, and so it is exceptionally important to cherish them. Therefore, Tibetans raise their young with the habit of frugality. They have been used to the education. If I lick the bowl each time, my friends from the Han nationality will ask, “Aren’t you full?” I reply: “Even if I am full, I cannot waste any food.” This means we should learn to cherish food and become frugal, and make it a habit. How can this good habit be passed to the generations to come? I think it is determined by family education.

The Jiarong People’s habit of licking bowls is one example of frugality. At home, we should ask for food that we can finish, and we cannot waste food. The Jiarong People have one proverb: The water buffalo will cry if you drop one grain of rice to the floor. This is to stress the importance of saving grains. The current policy advocates the idea of finishing the meals in your dishes. This is also an evidence to prove the greatness of the ancestors’ ideas, and requires us to form the habit of frugality.

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