Milk - Language and Culture

Language and Culture

The importance of milk in human culture is attested to by the numerous expressions embedded in our languages, for example, "the milk of human kindness". In ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Hera spilled her breast milk after refusing to feed Heracles, resulting in the Milky Way.

In African and Asian developing nations, butter is traditionally made from fermented milk rather than cream. It can take several hours of churning to produce workable butter grains from fermented milk.

Holy books have also mentioned milk. The Bible contains references to the 'Land of Milk and Honey'. In the Qur'an, there is a request to wonder on milk as follows: 'And surely in the livestock there is a lesson for you, We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies from the midst of digested food and blood, pure milk palatable for the drinkers.'(16-The Honeybee, 66). The Ramadan fast is traditionally broken with a glass of milk and dates.

Abhisheka is conducted by Hindu and Jain priests, by pouring libations on the image of a deity being worshipped, amidst the chanting of mantras. Usually offerings such as milk, yogurt, ghee, honey may be poured among other offerings depending on the type of abhishekam being performed.

To milk someone, in the vernacular of many English-speaking countries, is to take advantage of the person.

The word "milk" has had many slang meanings over time. In the 19th century, milk was used to describe a cheap alcoholic drink made from methylated spirits mixed with water. The word was also used to mean defraud, to be idle, to intercept telegrams addressed to someone else, and a weakling or 'milksop'. In the mid 1930s, the word was used in Australia meaning to siphon gas from a car.

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