No party or end of year get-together can be well celebrated without a communal food. Be it at home, in a working place, or with friends, the sharing of food is a source of joy. There is something wonderful about eating together; it brings people closer and it cements bonds. It has the power to forge relationships, bury hatred/anger and bring good feelings. With food we make friends, court lovers and count our blessings. Food is more than an item for survival.
History is replete with instances of dinners, suppers and mass food to mark events, weddings, anniversaries, and religious activities. In the Hindu community there are hundreds of festivals and each is celebrated with a particular cuisine and the food is shared. In Pongal festival, for example, rice and dhal (pulses) are prepared and eaten with family members, friends and neighbours. Holi, the festival of colours, is celebrated with the sharing of sweets (Khoya) and bhang (an alcoholic drink). During the nine days of Durga Puja (prayers to Mother Durga), Bohg, a proper meal is offered every day to all devotees. Diwali, the festival of lights, is often referred to as the festival of sweets where there is distribution of food (sweets) is no secret to anybody. At Hare Krisna Land and many other such temples food is distributed indistinctly to everyone on Sundays and other great occasions. Even the rituals (the shraddh) ceremony related to the departed souls are associated with the sharing of food .
Shirdhi Sai Baba filled the food vessels with sufficient food and other commodities to last when the hosts (his devotees) were worried about the quantity with the influx of guests giving clear signs that food should be shared with people.
Sharing of food is rooted in many traditions. Even children mimic the adults on the food rituals and serve you tea, cakes from their toy room. My grand children play this prank with me very often. Let’s keep up the tradition and celebrate the power of food, family, friends and faith be it for Christmas, New Year or Sankranti.
Bonne fete. Enjoy your food. Bon appetit.
* Published in print edition on 18 December 2015