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Food fiesta brings faiths together

Local and exotic dishes on display at Mangalore festival

Food fiesta brings faiths together
Leaders of different religions opening the food festival
Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore

May 2, 2011

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More than a thousand people of different religions congregated at Mangalore April 30 for a food and culture festival that took peace and harmony as its theme. Easter Octave is a time for Christians to extend their feasting. “On this occasion, the celebration of peace and harmony through food and culture is timely,” said Catholic Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore while inaugurating the festival. “Protestant Christians of Mangalore were the first ones to print a newspaper in the local Kannada language in Karnataka. Protestant missionary Reverend Kittel was the first to compile a dictionary, and now they are the first to organize such a food festival,” said Manohar Prasad, a Hindu journalist. Ever since the pro-Hindu Bharathiya Janata Party (Indian Peoples’ Party) started ruling Karnataka in 2008, violence against Christians has been rife in the state. “Food and culture are intertwined with the life of the people of every religion. Seeing, knowing, experiencing and accepting the food and cultural tastes of each other would bring us closer to each other and can surely become a tool for promoting peace and harmony,” said pastor Sandeep Theophil. He is public relations officer of Karnataka Christian Educational Society (KACES), an association of 25 educational institutions run by the protestant Church of South India (CSI), which organized the festival. “There were more than 70 continental and local delicacies on offer. We avoided items connected with pork and beef lest it should hurt the religious sentiments of people.” While Muslims abhor pork, Hindus don’t eat beef as they consider the cow as sacred. The counters displayed an array of rare home-made non alcoholic wines, syrups, juices, sweets and snacks. A number of local Hindu and Muslim delicacies were part of the festival. Items prepared in the local Tulunadu style were savored by many. Visitors were delighted to witness a splendid display of various local items like biriyani (spiced fried rice with meat), pelakayi gatti (jackfruit snack), gendadadde, (a steamed rice preparation), aapa (pancake), payasa (sweet dish) and roti (bread) under one roof. Twelve Hindu, Muslim and Christian organisations presented a cultural extravaganza. “Unity in diversity is life. Divisions and misunderstanding of each other is death,” said Abdul Ravoof Puthige, a Muslim leader. The event was also used to launch a Meals on Wheels service to supply hygienic food to sick and elderly people of the city and suburbs at concessional rates through Shalom Social Trust. “The festival restated the value attached to coastal cuisine and culture and succeeded in communicating the message of peace, true to the object behind organizing this unique event,’ said Reverend Honey Cabral, KACES secretary. The Delhi-based Interfaith Coalition for Peace was the co-organizer of the event. Related report Mangalore Churches vow to stand united IB14051.1649
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