The importance of onions and their history make for interesting reading. The onion's etymology mirrors its interesting history of how this bulb got its name. The word 'onion' comes from the Latin word meaning "one". This bulb was named so by Roman farmers due to its singly growing nature.

And another compelling reason may have been that the onion has multiple layers, and they grow as oneness under the soil.

The genesis of the onion seems to be murkier because there is diversity of historical claims. There is a scientific reason as to why the genesis of the onion is untraceable. The extinction of wild onions made it impossible to pinpoint the exact location where it originated.

However, it is believed that onions originated in Iran, the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. Pliny the Elder, the Roman author, a naturalist and natural philosopher, also wrote about the use of onions in the Roman city of Pompeii. And he also documented the historical beliefs of Romans about how onions had ameliorated ocular ailments, healed lumbago, aided in sleep and prevented dysentery.

In 1864, U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant gave a statement to the federal government saying, "I will not move my army without onions." He believed that onions would prevent dysentery and other physical ailments. We may not be able to make a bet on how onions can prevent different illnesses.

However, one thing we are surefooted about onions is that they have had great historical influence on societies and cultures across the globe.

Science has already proven that onions are important for improving the natural sexual urge, or libidinal impulses. It should tickle one's fancy at the thought that onions were prohibited in some societies and cultures in the past.

The reason may have been the growing moral fear that it would destroy the social decorum of a society when people became sexually mischievous thanks to the aphrodisiac effect of onions.

In our society we still have a segment of the people who do not subscribe to the idea of eating root vegetables, such as onions.

They do not tell us why they abstain from eating these vegetables. The only answer we get from them is that because they are Brahmins.

Genuine Brahmins in the past may have had an Ayurvedic reason for avoiding this libido boosting vegetable from their dietary plan. Onions may have health benefits, but Ayurvedic and scientific studies have proved that they also stimulate sexual desire and helps in sleep. The Brahmins were studious, and they did not like to fall asleep and get distracted by eating this overpowering vegetable.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 24, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.