Honey is not just a simple sweet thing that brings daily delight to favorite desserts. The use and production of honey have a long and varied history, for instance, it is frequently used as a talisman or lucky charm and symbol of sweetness. And so, it eventually formed a significant part in different religions from the world over. In many cultures, honey has uses that go beyond its use as a food.
Honey, called Madhu is one of the five elixirs of immortality or Panchamrita. In temples, honey is poured over the deities in a ritual called Madhu abhisheka. The Vedas and other ancient literature mention the use of honey as a great medicine and health food.
Honey is a symbol of the New Year, Rosh Hashanah. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashanah greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the New Year.
Many references to honey can be cited in the Hebrew Bible. For instance, in the Book of Judges, Samson found a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of a lion. In Old Testament law, offerings were made in the temple to God and provided in the Book of Leviticus, which provides that "Every grain offering you bring to the Lord must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the Lord”. In the Books of Samuel Jonathan is forced into a confrontation with his father King Saul after eating honey in violation of a rash oath Saul made. The Book of Exodus famously describes the Promised Land or Canaan as a "land flowing with milk and honey".
Honey plays an important role in the festival of Madhu Purnima, celebrated in India and Bangladesh. The day commemorates Buddha's making peace among his disciples by retreating into the wilderness. The legend has it that while he was there, a monkey brought him honey to eat. On Madhu Purnima, Buddhists remember this act by giving honey to monks. The monkey's gift is frequently depicted in Buddhist art.
The New Testament describes how John the Baptist is said to have lived for a long period of time in the wilderness on a diet consisting of locusts and wild honey.
There is an entire chapter in the Qur'an called an-Nahl or the Bee. According to his teachings, Muhammad strongly recommended honey for healing purposes. The Qur'an promotes honey as a nutritious and healthy food.