This Odissi dancer is determined to change the way Indians eat and is helping them live healthier lives.
She is an Odissi dancer who has transformed people’s lives with her fermented foods. Ashwini Raghupathy — the curly-haired, dark-eyed danseuse is also affectionately called Gutnanji. If you are wondering how that name came about, she says, “I was christened that because many people started expressing their gratitude after their guts were being healed by my fermented foods called The Good Life.”
While most people accept falling ill as a part of life, Ashwini adopted a proactive approach. “Sometimes all it takes is just a change of perspective and to look beyond limiting beliefs. ‘Why not?’ is a great question to ask oneself. It’s good to also seek examples of people who are on top of their game health wise, who have taken control and changed their lives.”
Ashwini believes that a healthy lifestyle should become a way of life and eating right is mandatory. “If we ate what we are supposed to and that includes the ancient tried and tested addition of Fermented Foods, we would all have healthier lifestyles and would not need to consider some of the diets available in modern times, all of which seem to come and go,” she opines.
These days’ food trends are so fashionable that it makes people skeptical as they feel it’s a passing phase. So how does she convince them about the importance of fermented food? “The importance of including Fermented Foods into our daily diet is not fully appreciated in India. It extends mostly to only idli and curd in most households. But the world of Fermentation is fascinating and includes foods that are far more powerful and beneficial than our humble curd and idli. And I would like us in India to tap into the best, most effective foods available around the world. This is the reason I set up Good Life, to educate and spread the word.
Fermentation has been a way of life for centuries in various parts of the world so can hardly be considered a passing phase. I do not believe in convincing people. I believe the food is the ultimate conviction. I don’t do any marketing, don’t post any ads, everything works on word of mouth, from people who have experienced the benefits and want to spread the word, because they want their friends and family to experience good health as well,” Ashwini elaborates.
With so much on her plate, you wonder if Odissi has taken a backseat? The reply is not surprising. “None of the jobs I have ever taken up have been mere tasks for me. When I got out of college into the workforce, I wanted to change the world — which is why I joined the social sector. Later as I became wiser I wanted to change myself, which is why I took up Odissi. And now with Good Life I am currently of the understanding that there is no difference between myself and the world. I cannot be a healthy person in the middle of a sick society,” she reveals. Expectedly Odissi is very much a part of her life. “I will continue to dance even when I’m 90 years old. Things like meditation, Odissi and a good diet cannot take a backseat for me. Instead, they are the foundation on which everything else is built. I think I’m pretty good so far with my mind, body and soul covered!” she adds.
When you trace back your journey so far, how do you feel? “All this began because of my desire to find an altogether healthier way of living without the use of prescription medicine, which in the main offers cures only. It saddened me a little to think we had to get ill in the first place when a healthy preventative lifestyle is available.
“I feel good about starting Good Life which is becoming such an important platform in the health space. It feels great to open my inbox everyday, and read the mails I get. Every single day I have someone writing to thank me, for the difference fermented foods have made to their health. This makes my work far easier,” she confesses.