A symposium on Diet, Health & Religion, second in a series was held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on 5th September, 2012. The Chief Guest was Shri J Veeraraghavan, Chairman, Bhavan’s KM Munshi Institute of Educational Leadership and Management.
Welcoming the gathering, Shri Ashok Pradhan, Director, BVB said that the purpose of this symposium was to examine the relation between what we eat, how it affects our health and how all religions look at this aspect. Nature is also related to our health. Nature tells us what to eat. For example, summer vegetables have a high content of water. Speaking on fasting, he observed that not eating on certain days cleanses our body.
Dr AK Merchant of the Baha’i faith said, the Baha’i religion is less than 200 years old and diverse.
- Baha’u’llah says: “Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from the wondrous bounties…”.
- Whatever science has said is healthy for us is welcome.
- Majority of Baha’is are vegetarian.
- There is no restriction as such regarding foods.
- The Baha’i teachings permit the eating of all foods.
- There is nothing in the Baha’i teachings about whether people should eat their food cooked or raw, nor is it forbidden to eat meat.
- Moderation is essential.
- One should eat only when hungry and at a fixed time to allow the body to digest food.
- Alcohol is strictly prohibited. This includes when alcohol is taken as a drink as well as in cooking.
- Only medically prescribed drugs should be used.
- Tobacco and smoking are not strictly prohibited but are highly discouraged.
- If two diametrically opposite foods are on the plate, choose only one.
- Baha’is believe that living a simple life, abstaining from the use of alcohol and mind–altering drugs is beneficial to spiritual development, greatly reduces illness and has a good effect on character and conduct.
- If a person can live on a purely vegetarian diet, it would be most beneficial.
- Why certain foods are available in certain seasons have a scientific basis.
- Food should be eaten in a healthy state of mind.
- Whole wheat and gur are preferred to refined flour (maida) and white sugar.
- Mother’s milk is the best food for the child. A child who has been breast-fed has a better power of resistance.
- Most importantly, we should show courtesy to people of other religions i.e. we should be mindful of the eating habits of other religions.
- Fasting is very important. The Baha’i calendar has 19 days of fasting from March 2-20, which ends with the Baha’i New Year.