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Religious legacy of food of the roman catholics in puducherry


Presented the paper in National Seminar conducted by KMPGCS,Department of History. The seminar was co-ordinated by Dr.Reddy, the Topic of the Seminar Cultural History and Food of the South India - …

Presented the paper in National Seminar conducted by KMPGCS,Department of History. The seminar was co-ordinated by Dr.Reddy, the Topic of the Seminar Cultural History and Food of the South India - two day seminar

Published in Education , Spiritual
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  • 1. RELIGIOUS LEGACY OF FOOD OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS IN PUDUCHERRY P. CHARLES CHRISTOPHER RAJ and J. PRABAKARAN DEPARTMENT OF HISTORICAL STUDIES KASTHURBA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN, VILLIANUR, PUDUCHERRY 605 110 Introduction The Roman Catholic Church, the most populous Christian church, which is headed by the Pope of Rome, who is believed to be an apostolic descendent of St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome. The Catholic Church has a long history of development in concert with Western civilization. It maintains the basic Christian tenets of faith, including the Holy Trinity and the effect of Adam and Eve’s fall from their original sinless state at creation. Catholics believe in the salvific actions of Jesus Christ who redeemed creation from the effects of original sin and established Christianity, the Bible and then tradition as the standards of faith and belief. The Catholic Church believes that it has the authority and responsibility to be a conduct for God’s grace of salvation, food-eating, healing and wholeness through prayer and the seven Sacraments1, such as Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist. Food and Health are the two important aspects of human being, when people are in need of food and healing, they are encouraged to request the prayers of other Christians and the saints especially the Virgin Mary who they believe are in Heaven and are endowed with the grace to request God’s help for the gift of healing. The Catholic Church encourages food interventions that nourishes physical and spiritual well-being 2. Puducherry Roman Catholics follow the necessary itinerary of food that they want to intake and there is no dietary restrictions. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is encouraged but is not required, as an act of love and 1
  • 2. solidarity with Christ’s crucifixion and suffering, preparing believers for the remembrance of the resurrection which is celebrated on each Sunday. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only days during the year when fasting and abstinence from meat are required3. We would like to believe that eating is a rational act, governed by hygiene and nutrition but in most cases it is not. We eat because food is tasty, because we are hungry, because that is what our family told us to eat. Often, we eat related items and don’t eat what others don’t because by doing so we reaffirm our links to a particular group4. The reasons for religious dietary laws are often shrouded in mystery – with reasons ranging from hygiene to divine decree to unquestionable tradition. Jewish dietary laws involve kosher 5foods. Eggs must be checked for blood spots. These were apparently instituted for health reasons – because certain foods get spoiled easily, because one can get trichinosis from pork. If that was the case then these laws would have been abandoned with the advent of modern food processing. Beyond the rational reasons, it seems more likely that these dietary laws helped the Jewish Diaspora reaffirm their separateness and identity through centuries of exile and persecution6. Jesus was born in a Jewish family and no doubt followed the kosher dietary laws. During the last supper he equated wine with his blood and offered it to his followers. Was this an act of breaking free from the Jewish fold since blood is non-kosher? Little wonder then that Christianity grew in numbers and gradually became the dominant religion of Europe and spread in Asia especially in India, smiles to the traditions of indianisation in all aspects of Christian faith, keeping in view the core meaning of celebration leaving behind the westernisation 7. Particularly in Tamilnadu and Puducherry, Roman Catholics’ legacy in the pattern of food eating has been followed from the tradition of the universal biblical liturgical aspects through indianisation and my article goes in for a thorough study on the food habits of Roman Catholics 2
  • 3. at Puducherry in the form of Calendrical aspect starting from Christmas (Birth of Jesus) and closing with All Souls Day. Calendrical Festivals and the food prepared for the occasions * Christmas On 25th December of every year, this day is celebrated as the Jesus Christ’s birth day. On this day, people of Pondicherry distribute a cake called Vivikam or Putucherry Cake8. This cake is specific to Pondicherry Creole families and some of the ingredients are procured a couple of months in advance. The more the ingredients soak in rum, the more they absorb it and the tastier the cake gets. The cake is baked well in advance and can be preserved for more than a month. In the midnight of the Christmas eve, Catholics go to church for liturgical mass and when they are back, they all sit together near the crib or Kudil 9 which is decorated depicting the birth of Child Jesus. The eldest in the family cuts the cake, a piece of cake is offered to the Infant Jesus in the manger and the whole night the celebration goes on. During the lunch of the day, friends are invited and a grand lunch is served and Putucherry cake is served with Cognac10 at the end of the meal. Besides the cake, Crib gets the importance for a fortnight where the consecutive days prayers are offered and those who attend the prayer session are given sundal prepared with cereals and pulses11. * New Year The New Year celebration is literally, the feast on the eighth day of the Christmas. On the night of 31st December at 11 p.m., the Mass is celebrated to mark the beginning of the New Year. People bring with them kaapparici12 (rice mixed with treacle and distributed at the birth of 3
  • 4. a child), and place it at the altar. After the Mass, this rice is blessed by the priest and is distributed to all those present in the church. The rice so distributed is taken home and mixed with rice and shared among friends and relatives. The Hindus have a similar practice in the month of Maarkazi (December-January). They make porridge out of the new rice and offer it at the family altar and then consume. kaapparici is the new rice from the harvest that is first offered to the deity and then consumed. Similarly, the Catholics offer the new rice in the church. The midday meal will have a special chutney called Maangaiy titipu or sweet mango chutney, the chutney found unique in Pondicherry and Karaikal and the combination of ingredients overwhelm the appetite of a person who consume it, the sweet sour flavor makes it an ideal accompaniment to lamb and chicken briyani13. * Epiphany14(Moonu raja Pongal) The first Sunday of the Year in January is the day of visit by the three kings to see the Child Jesus in the manger and it is called as Epiphany but in parts of Puducherry it is celebrated as Moonu raja Pongal as thanks to the Mother Earth for bringing the great Messiah to this world to resurrect the poor. All the family members go to the parents’ houses and Pongal is cooked on this day at noon when the church bells start chiming. Usually cow’s milk is used but in Pondicherry and Karaikal, coconut milk is used. A small portion of pongal is placed in the crib for Child Jesus. Then the Pongal is distributed to neighbours, friends and relatives. It is placed along with a piece of sugar cane, porials, chutney and special sweet is prepared called chana dal saute sweet which is sweet in taste, appalam, ghee, tambulum, beetle leaves, bananas and a string of jasmine all placed on a banana leaf. Taplam Kuzhambu or Mixed vegetables in tamarind sauce, is thes kuzhambu is made in a mud pot. Many vegetables have to be cooked on that day. So that this kuzhambu becomes the mark of the day 15. In the evening when the kith 4
  • 5. and kin leave the house, the elders bless them and give them presents as well as money and wish them all success in their endeavour throughout the year. * Ash Wednesday The season of Lent denotes a period of forty days when the Catholics are expected to realise their sins and make reparation for the same. During this period, some Catholics abstain from physical pleasures like the consumption of meat and alcohol. As an expression of penance devout Catholics even wear a special kind of indigenous dress called kaavi. Some combine the Lenten ritual with tiruyaattirai (a pilgrimage on foot) to the Shrine Vailankanni . As prescribed by the Church, the Lenten rituals begin on the viboodi tirunaaL /AshWednesday,the day on which the priest applies viboodi (ash) on the forehead of the people during the Mass. Three decades ago, the Catholic women were proscribed from wearing flowers in their hair and kumkumam (red spot) on their forehead during the Lenten season, and the priests were particular about it. Today, this is not very strictly followed, and most women have the kumkumam, though they give up wearing flowers in their hair. For Tamil women kumkumam is an auspicious sign, which is only proscribed for widows. The priests have also come to understand the native symbolism and accordingly respect such practices of the people 16. Besides these they abstain from flesh food and eat vegetarian diet, and the very famous rasam is prepared during these days is Tengaiy paal rasam or Coconut milk rasam, in which coconut milk, tomatoes, salt, coriander leaves, garlic, black pepper and cumin seeds, tamarind pulp are mixed and boiled. On this day, the members of family who are fasting have their meals with this rasam17. 5
  • 6. * Holy Week The Lent Season has the particular section called Holy Week which starts as Holy Thursday, Holy Friday or Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. These days are the most important days of each Christian fellow for the founder of Christianity died and resurrect on the third day as he had promised it in the synagogue of Jerusalem. Besides the ceremonial activities depicting the mourning days, the food which is accommodated on these days are also mournful one. On Holy Thursday, since Jesus had his last supper with his disciples, which consisted of Bread and Wine, is taken in each house of Roman Catholics in Pondicherry with Kanji(rice kanji) and Thovaiyal i.e., Chutney. This kanji is prepared with rice and coconut scraps and thovaiyal is prepared with groundnut and coconut. They keep it prepared before they go for the liturgical mass in the evening of Thursday and have it as soon as they come home for they are going to fast the next day being the Good Friday, the Lord death day. On Friday persons above sixty years of age will have light breakfast i.e., the left over kanji of the previous day and others will fast in the morning as they attend the Way of the Cross the semblance of Christ put to death in Jerusalem. After this session they come home and have food. Good Friday is observed with cooked agati grandiflora and bitterguard to mark the mourning the crucification of Jesus Christ. Bitter guard will be cut in round shapes and made to dry for hours then mixed with chilly powder, salt and fried it in the pan. Agati grandiflora is prepared with thoordal for the children should not feel the bitterness 18. But in the places of Holy Land, the Biblical Herb Soup or Soup of the Seven Sorrows in which they use the seven bitter herbs like turnip greens,radish greens, parsley greens, sorrel leaves, endive, mustard and coriander go into this soup to symbolize the seven sorrows of Mother Mary and the soup acts as the light meal on the mourning day19. Then the Holy Saturday, the day said to be Mary lamenting for Jesus, 6
  • 7. oppariy naaal. So the same practice is followed by the women folk of Pondicherry. They wear only white sarees and they usually don’t cook food. Instead they eat whatever food is available or they prepare Chapaati without oil and use potato mash to go with. In some villages they prepare vennaiputtu which is not so sweet and not so salty and is very often found in jelly form. Then the Resurrection Day i.e. Easter Day is celebrated. It is the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, a day of special rejoicing for Christians, who rejoice too at reaching the end of the long Lenten fast. The concept of renewal/rebirth is responsible for the important role played by the egg in Easter celebrations, a role which no doubt antedates Christianity. There are also special foods associated with the other days in the Easter calendar...In Europe, there is a general tradition, not confined to Christians, that Easter is the time to start eating the season's new lamb, which is just coming the market then., Easter breads, cakes, and biscuits are a major category of Easter foods, perhaps especially noticeable in the predominantly Roman Catholic countries of South and Central Europe., traditional breads are laden with symbolism in their shapes, which may make reference to Christian faith., in England breads or cakes flavoured with bitter tansy juice is used and are popular Easter foods., Simnel cake has come to be regarded as an Easter specialty, although it was not always so. The most popular English Easter bread is the hot cross bun. Easter Eggs are traditionally connected with rebirth, rejuvenation and immortality. In the early Christian calendar eggs, were forbidden during Lent. This made them bountiful and exciting forty days later. Easter eggs are sometimes decorated with bright colors to honor this celebration. Eggs were colored, blessed, exchanged and eaten as part of the rites of the spring long before Christian times. Even the earliest civilizations had springtime festivals to welcome the sun's rising from its long winter sleep. They thought of the sun's return from darkness as an annual miracle and regarded the egg as a natural wonder and a proof of the renewal of life. As 7
  • 8. Christianity spread, the egg was adopted as a symbol of Christ's Resurrection from the tomb. For centuries, eggs were among the foods forbidden by the church during Lent. So it was a special treat to have them again at Easter. Eggs are distributed in the church taken home as a part of Easter breakfast20. This custom is found only in the Notre Damne de Anges Church at Pondicherry. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning. Apart from these Van Koji Kary Vellaiy Kurma or Turkey Kurma is prepared, marinate the turkey pieces in 3 cups of yoghurt for 1 hour, add garlic, ginger pastes and fry to set golden brown colour in the oil, prepare the kurma using coconut, cashew nuts, almonds and poppy seed pastes and boil it and then put the fried turkey pieces into it, and then it is served for lunch 21. Easter is the day of feasting and enjoyment with a variety of food after forty days when the lent is over. *All Souls Day This falls on the 2nd November and is dedicated to all the dead by the Church. The rite of All Souls Day was incorporated into the calendrical feast of the Church from the tenth century that the dead need the prayers of the living is the essential message of the day. This is because of the Catholic belief that the dead do not enter heaven directly, but go through an intermediary state called the purgatory waiting for final judgement. Prayers by the living cleanse the souls of the dead, bringing them into closer communion with god. Catholics not only pray but also ask other intermediaries like the saints and Mary to intercede for those under going luminal ordeal in purgatory. Following the native lore of the Hindus, some Catholics believe that failure to pray 8
  • 9. for the dead in the family would provoke the dead to disturb the living. Thus, misfortune and sickness in the family are often attributed to such failures. Dreams of the dead are considered as reminders to pray for them and/or as signs of impending misfortune. The Catholics also believe that even as the dead need the prayers of the living, the dead can also assist the living in the material world. This is one of the reasons why the Catholics offer the Mass before any auspicious occasion (e.g., marriage) or after a beneficial event (e.g., getting a job). On the All Souls Day, the Catholics clean the cemeteries and decorate the graves of their family members with flowers. They place lighted candles and incense sticks on the graves. The priest prays for the dead stressing on the Christian belief that they are not dead but are risen with Jesus. The blessing of the cemetery by the priest is very significant from the point of view of the people, since the notion of the fear of the dead still lingers in the minds of the people. It is symbolic of the dead person's spirit bound within the grave and the harmful effects being neutralised by the sprinkling of the holy water. Offering food in the name of the dead is a native practice, and is distinct from praying for the dead. Food like chicken or mutton briyani, mixed vegetable curry, and sweets that are liked by the dead personnel especially jileby, mysoreba,alcohol etc are placed in the banana leaf before the portraits of the dead souls. Long prayer sessions will be there as if awaiting the dead to come and consume these food items. The rituals the Catholics follow on the All Souls Day show the way they have fused their Christian ideas of death with the native practices. The remembrance of the dead ancestors has now become a part of the prescribed prayers of the Church. Thus, the manner in which the Catholics observe the rituals on this day is one of combinations, moulding and reinterpreting the Catholic rituals with those of their native beliefs and rituals22. 9
  • 10. To sum up, the calendrical feasts of the Catholics have definite rituals and food procedures set by the Church. From the foregoing description of the celebrations we observe that the Catholics while retaining the given structure and rituals of the Christian celebration have added native rituals, beliefs and practices. They have done so by retaining the core Christian symbols and have added on peripheral symbols, which are basically native and not Christian in origin but belonging to Hindu tradition. These native symbols receive Christian attributes as they are incorporated into the Christian celebration. Roman Catholics follow the Food Matrix based on – Physical, Social, Moral and Spiritual Dimensions. The Bible’s frequent reference to food highlights food’s importance for the physical, social, moral and spiritual well being of God’s People and Catholics of Pondicherry thrive to follow it up by all means. Developing a Christian theology for food requires an examination of each of these dimensions of human-ness across the four eras covered in the Old and the New Testaments 23. Food Matrix as a model:*** Era Quality 1. Physical (food as meeting the daily requirements of living) 2a. Social (eating together strengthens social bonds) 2b. Social (food’s role in Creation Era Gen 1:29 - God provided abundant food for Adam and Eve Gen 18 – Abraham feeds God’s messengers Gen 15:10 - God’s covenant with Abraham sealed Theocracy of Israel Jesus’ time and teaching God provides manna and quail in the desert for 40 years, then a land of milk and honey Matt 4 - Jesus experiences hunger Matt 15:32 - Jesus feeds the 4000 Matt 6:11 - Jesus pray of thankfulness for food – “our daily bread” Matt 9:10 and Matt 11:18 - Jesus’ social events around food were condemned as eating and drinking with sinners Significant events in Israel’s history commemorated by a feast – Feast of Tabernacles, First Fruits, Passover Num 6:1 and Judges 13:7 – Nazerites, a Matt 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22 – The Last Supper’s New 10 Early Church Practice Early Church practice of feeding the widows and the orphans and distribution according to need Acts 2:42 – The New Church breaks bread together Rom 12:20 – Paul makes a vow to abstain
  • 11. confirming the binding nature of a covenant) 3a. Moral (personal triumphs or failures resulting from food) 3b. Moral (obligations to the community) 4a. Spiritual (food impeding our relationship with God) 4b. Spiritual (food as a mark or symbol of spirituality) with a heifer, a goat and 2 birds covenant people of God, were set apart by their food habits Gen 1:29 - Food is good work of God and of great variety for Adam and Eve Prov 23:2, 23:21 and 28:7 – Gluttony is a disgrace and idolatrous Lev 23:22 Gleaning provisions Ezek 18:16 admonitions to assist the poor Gen 3 - Adam and Eve committed first sin through the medium of food Gen 4 – Cain committed second sin because of God’s reaction to his food offering The plethora of food laws in the Old Testament; The necessity of food offerings of grain or meat to communicate with God Covenant sealed with bread and wine Matt 25:40 - The way in which one treats the poor and hungry God determines moral character and judgment before Matt 15:20 – and Mark 7:17 – Jesus challenges the food laws of the Old Testament by challenging the definition of clean and unclean foods Jesus is the bread of life and the living water of life John 4:34 - Jesus’ food is to do God’s will Gen 2:17 – God uses a tree and its fruit as the mark of the knowledge between good and evil from certain foods for the benefit of others Titus 1:12 – Gluttony is sinful Acts 15, 1 Cor 10:20 – Food sacrificed to idols is sinful Acts 6 – the feeding program of the new church under Stephen Rom 14:20 - Do not eat foods that will make your brother fall Acts 15:28 – The Council of Jerusalem sets out food rules for non-Jews James 2:14 – Faith is demonstrated in action, such as sharing food Physical needs Food is a central concept in the Old and New Testaments. Subsistence economies and the harsh climatic regions of the Middle East made food, its cultivation and consummation a central theme of physical life during the entire period in which the Bible was written. It is sometimes easy to lose sight of this fact in our modern age of Western World abundance where the importance and centrality of food have been substantially downgraded. The story of creation in the first chapter of Genesis establishes clearly that God created all means of physical sustenance. After God created man and woman, he gave them these plants for food24. Man was placed in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it. When the first humans sinned God commanded that Adam and Eve to produce their own food by the sweat of their brow. Throughout the Bible, 11
  • 12. bread is used as the food term of immediate need and sustenance. Give us this day our daily bread. Man cannot live by bread alone 25. Bread is the single most important food word in the Bible and focuses attention on the necessity of meeting daily nutritional requirements for survival. God provided for the Israelites daily while they were in the desert with the bread- like manna. Fruit and specific references to different fruits, including figs, raisins, pomegranates, olives, grapes and wines, on the other hand, represent abundance. Meeting physical needs basically with bread or abundantly with fruits is a constant theme in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus understands the physical dimension of food. He knew hunger and he knew, along with Satan, the physical need to appease such hunger. Jesus understood the physical demand of food and often satisfied that need in his disciples and his followers. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way26. Social functions Throughout the Bible, food is used as means to build, enhance or repair relationships. Eating together builds community. It demonstrates trust and care. It even prevents quarrels. In this way, food meets important social needs and is an instrument of blessing. In the Old Testament for example, Abigail made appeasement to David, who was coming to kill her husband, by sending him donkeys laden with food. By Abigail’s gift of food and well-chosen words, conflict was averted27. Food brings people together as it did at the Last Supper or at the meetings of the Early Church or at Old Testament festivals such as the Feast of Tabernacles 28, First Fruits or Passover29. The Bible’s constant recognition of the state of the poor and the need 12
  • 13. that they be cared for speaks volumes not only to the physical attributes, but also the social attributes, of food. Feeding the poor would bring them into community and thus the poor would come to enjoy the benefits of community life and interaction as well as no longer being hungry. In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. This was a dire situation as it was not only a violation of the vulnerable group’s physical well being but also had social effects on the larger community. Obstructing the poor in getting their food was indicative of a much deeper tear in the social and spiritual fabric of that early Church community30. Food in the Bible also has the social function of peacemaking. Abigail used it to appease David and Paul suggests that we use to appease our enemies. St. Paul says If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink31. Moral implications The law given to Moses32 as set out in Exodus33 and Leviticus34 makes it very clear that those who have food have an obligation to share it with others. When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God. This particular command is a part of a larger admonition to care for the poor and the alien. However, it is significant that one of the ways the poor are to be cared for is that those who produced food were to leave some portion for the poor. The law could have commanded that those who produced food were to give some percentages to the poor in a manner similar to the provision for the Levites 35. However, in this command, the requirement was that food be left for the poor and that the poor would actually 13
  • 14. have to come and get it themselves from the edges of the fields. The other significant command in relation to food and the poor is found in the 7-year Sabbath regulations for the land. In the Exodus Version of the law of the 7th year Sabbath rest for the land indicates that what the land produces in its fallow year: Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. This implies that in the Sabbath year, as in the desert, God himself supplies the needs of the poor. There are many references to God’s concern for the poor. He requires that his people care for the poor among them, that they refrain from taking advantage of them and that they will suffer judgment for treating the poor wrongly. Even in the New Testament there are several instances where individuals defile themselves by inappropriately consuming food. Either they eat too much of it and risk the sins of excessive living or they eat food which causes their brothers and sisters to stumble. While Jesus’ teachings and those of the disciples relax the food laws of the Old Testament, food can still be a personal stumbling block. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall36. Spiritual role of food It is significant that the first sin is related to food. God had given all plants to man and woman for food except for the significant tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation to eat and be like God, their disobedience to God’s command was manifested by eating the forbidden fruit. Leviticus is filled with specific references to the elaborate food laws of the Jewish faith. Fulfilling the laws would bring one into 14
  • 15. a closer relationship with God. Offering appropriate food sacrifices also demonstrates the spiritual function of food in the Old Testament. In the New Testament Jesus reveals the spiritual consequences for failing to heed the obligation to feed the poor. Jesus said, He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. Jesus concludes: I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and yo u gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. Food is often a metaphor for meeting daily spiritual needs. Jesus refers to himself as both the living water and the bread of life. Jesus said that our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. Food is important in the Bible and is given its central place in the physical, social, moral and spiritual development of God’s people. It is, of course, possible to overstate the importance of food in the Bible. The Bible sets out God’s plan for our salvation and His love for His People. While our physical needs are important, Jesus’s work is of a spiritual nature and food is only an element in that plan of spiritual renewal37. As St. Paul stated, Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Even, the coastal regions celebrates the festivals with the fishes that are available during Christmas, they select the star fish as special one and crabs which have the symbol of cross during Easter are used, so the food utilized may differ from region to region but they mean the festival days to be one and the same. 15
  • 16. As far as food is concerned Christianity directive principle is to provide food to those in need whether the person is of the same society, creed, caste or race as the Gospel of Luke says, the man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same41. Pondicherry Roman Catholic Christian house kitchen stove are always lit with fire and their houses at the outside have two sit ups waiting for somebody to rest and the house owner intends to provide food, because food doesn’t belong to one but to the whole community where we all live. Importance of Food and Food Aid Food to be received with gratitude The Christian theology of food begins with gratitude. Jesus taught us to give thanks for our daily bread. St. Paul reminded us that whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Food, like grace, is a gift from God to be received with gratitude. No one has a right to food. Instead, one is grateful to be the recipient of God’s bounty and abundance. When one is hungry, God will provide as He did to the Israelites in the desert or to the gleaners, like Ruth. And while the hungry have no right to food, those blessed with abundance have an obligation to provide food to the hungry38. Food as the fabric of relationships 16
  • 17. In the Bible, time and time again food is used to build community. Sometimes the relationship to be cemented is between a person of high stature and those of more humble circumstances such as with Samuel calling for a feast to announce that David will be Israel’s new King. Sometimes the relationship is a familiar one with the parable father killing the fattened calf to celebrate the return of his prodigal son. Sometimes the giving of food appeases enemies or starts the process of forgiveness. Ultimately the sharing of food is a sign of love and acceptance such as was shown by Jesus dining with tax collectors. Regardless, food is not just a commodity for consumption. It has an important and often sacred role in building community and avoiding conflict39. Grappling with the balance between justice and compassion Yet there is a strong tension within the Christian theology of food. How does one balance the justice theme of strict food laws in the Old Testament or the hard teaching of St.Paul’s New Testament passage if you don’t work, you don’t eat with the compassion that God’s show for his people in the dessert or Jesus’ feeding the 5000? Both themes exist. God’s command is to work by the sweat of your brow to produce food, failing which you will surely die. Just as without God’s grace of salvation you will die spiritually, without God’s provision you will die. But God does provide and his people are under an obligation to be thankful for the share their bounty received from God. The focus on the Christian theology of food (and consequently food aid) is that we have no right to food but rather an obligation to be thankful for the provision of food and to show this gratitude by extending an offer of food to others—to meet their physical, social, moral and spiritual needs40. 17
  • 18. Conclusion Thus Roman Catholic Christians, celebrate the calendrical festivals according to their Holy Book and the tradition mentioned in it but there is a paradigm shift when it comes to India and especially Puducherry, where we have indigenous practices without violating the intended basic principles local adaptations are carefully done with the stipulated framework of the welldefined occasions. They are to be viewed as comparable food items grown in a different geographical locations certain native mystifications are done only to facilitate the locals who are used to their native customs and beliefs. It is all done only to reinforce the spirit of the occasion and careful attention is paid not to make it a deviant version from the original attributes. Thus, food serves as a comprehensive symbol of love, compassion, communal living, hospitality, appeasement of even the enemies and finally a spiritual and a holy ideal. Footnotes and References : 18
  • 19. 1. Sacrament means a sacred action, object or means. It is some external action or sign performed in the name of Jesus, and is reminiscent of Jesus' actions capable of producing inward grace. For example, the Eucharistic sacrament employs bread and wine 'symbolically and analogically rather than conventionally and arbitrarily'. The Catholic Church observes seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist Reconciliation, Anointing, Matrimony and Priesthood. 2. Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books.1969 pp. 15-22. 3. Bernard Jensen, Foods that Heal,HealthHarmony,NewDelhi,2004,p.43. 4. Alberta Health Services, Health Care and Religious Faiith,pp.28-32. 5. Kosher means that which is fit or proper, and the rules determining kosher are complex. For example, only fish with fins and scales are kosher. Thus clams, shrimps, and crabs are nonkosher. Animals that chew the cud and have cloven hoofs are kosher. Blood is non-kosher. 6. Stephen Charles Mott, A Christian Perspective on Political Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp.26-28. 7. Bayly, Susan. Saints, Goddesses, and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South India Society 1700-1900. Cambridge: 1989.pp.92-120. 8. Lourdes Tirouvanziam – Louis,The Pondicherry Kitchen,Chennai,2010,p.174. 9. Sivasubrahmanian, A. 1969. `Vasarpadi Mariyal' (in Tamil), Navavin Aaraaichi, 2 (1):pp 291-97. 10. Brandy from the French departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime. Tracing its origin to the 17th century, cognac (named for the town of Cognac) is distilled from white wine in special pot stills (alembics) and aged in Limousin oak. Most cognacs spend from one and one-half to five years in wood, though rarer varieties may age much longer. 19
  • 20. 11. Sivasubrahmanian, A.,op.cit.,p.301. 12. Literally, kaappu means protection and arici means rice; thus, kaapparici refers to rice that is protected from pollution. 13. Lourdes Tirouvanziam – Louis,op.cit.,p.31. 14. Christian festival celebrated on January 6. One of the oldest Christian holy days (along with Christmas and Easter), the festival originated in the Eastern church and was adopted in the Western church by the 4th century. It commemorates the first manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi. The eve of Epiphany, called Twelfth Night, is thought to mark the arrival of the three Wise Men in Bethlehem. These men offered incense, myrrh and silver to Infant Jesus. 15. Lourdes Tirouvanziam – Louis,op.cit.,p.77. 16. Thekkedath, Joseph. History of Christianity in India (Vol.2). Bangalore,1982. 17. Lourdes Tirouvanziam – Louis,op.cit.,p.48. 18. Stephen Louie,Dangers of Underneath, Unseeded and Unclean Food according to Bible Medicine,pp.204-222. 19. Fleming H.Revell,The Good Book Cook Book,New Jersey,1990,p.183. 20. Alan Davidson,Oxford Companion to Food, 1999 p. 266-7. 21. Lourdes Tirouvanziam – Louis,op.cit.,p.97. 22. Turner,Victor,. 'Symbols and Social Experience in Religious Ritual,' in Mariasusai Dhavamony, J. Lopez-Gay and J. Finance (eds.): Worship and Ritual: In Christianity and Other Religions. Rome,1974, pp. 1-21. 23. Don Buckingham, The Canadian Food grains bank, Ottawa,2000,p.15. ***Ibid.p.19 20
  • 21. 24. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible, Book of Genesis,Chapter1. 25. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible,op.cit., Gospel of St.Matthew,Chapter 6.v.11. 26. Ibid.Chapter15.v.32. 27. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible, op.cit., First Book of Samuel,Ch.28.v.18. 28. In Jewish history, the portable sanctuary constructed by Moses as a place of worship for the Hebrew tribes during the period of wandering that preceded their arrival in the Promised Land. A feast is celebrated in commemoration of the tabernacles. Elaborately described in Exodus, it was divided into an outer room, the “holy place,” and an inner room, the Holy of Holies, which housed the Ark of the Covenant. With the erection of the Temple of Jerusalem, the Tabernacle no longer served a purpose. In modern Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, the tabernacle is the receptacle on the church altar in which the consecrated elements of the Eucharist are stored. 29. In Judaism, the holiday commemorating the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Before sending a plague to destroy the firstborn of the Egyptians, God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to place a special mark above their doors as a signal for the angel of death to passover (i.e., spare the residents). The festival of Passover begins on the 15th and ends on the 22nd (in Israel, the 21st) day of the month of Nisan (March or April). During Passover only unleavened bread may be eaten, symbolizing the Hebrews' suffering in bondage and the haste with which they left Egypt. On the first night of Passover, a Seder is held, and the Haggadah is read aloud. 30. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible,op.cit.,The Acts,Chapter 6,v.1. 31. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible,op.cit.St.Paul letter to the Romans,Chapter 12.versus.20. 32. Prophet of Judaism. According to the Book of Exodus, he was born in Egypt to Hebrew parents, who set him afloat on the Nile in a reed basket to save him from an edict calling for the death of all newborn Hebrew males. Found by the pharaoh's daughter, he was reared in the Egyptian court. After killing a brutal Egyptian taskmaster, he fled to Midian, where Yahweh (God) revealed himself in a burning bush and called Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. With the help of his brother Aaron, Moses pleaded with the pharaoh for the Israelites' release. The pharaoh let them go after Yahweh had visited a series of plagues on Egypt, but then sent his army after them. Yahweh parted the waters of the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to pass, then drowned the pursuing Egyptians. 21
  • 22. Yahweh made a covenant with the Israelites at Mount Sinai and delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses, who continued to lead his people through 40 years of wandering in the wilderness until they reached the edge of Canaan. He died before he could enter the Promised Land. Authorship of the first five books of the Bible is traditionally ascribed to him. 33. Second book of the Old Testament. The title refers to the departure of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses in the 13th century BC. The book begins with the story of the Israelites' enslavement in Egypt and God's call to Moses to become a prophet. It tells of the plagues sent to persuade the pharaoh to free the Israelites, and it recalls their crossing of the Sea of Reeds (or the Red Sea) and their 40 years of wandering in the Sinai desert. It also recounts how God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai, handing down the Ten Commandments. In Exodus God establishes his reliability as Israel's protector and savior, and lays claim to its loyalty and obedience. 34. Compilation of 37 compositions on topics suggested by the Old Testament Book of Leviticus. Their message is that the laws of history focus on the holy life of Israel (the Jewish people). If the Jews obey the laws of society aimed at Israel's sanctification, then the foreordained history will unfold as Israel hopes. Israel, for its part, can affect its own destiny. Thus salvation at the end of history depends on sanctification. 35. In ancient Israel, the third son of the patriarch Jacob. Levi became head of the clans of religious functionaries known as Levites. Unlike the 12 tribes of Israel, the Levites were given no allotment of land when Canaan was conquered. They are thought to have performed subordinate services associated with public worship, serving as musicians, guardians, Temple officials, judges, and craftsmen. 36. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible, op.cit. St.Paul letter to the Romans, Chapter 14.versus.20-21. 37. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible, op.cit. Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 25,v.40-42. 38. John Hammond, Article on Fasting and Feasting in the Roman Catholic Community,p.10. 22
  • 23. 39. Raj, Selva. "Dialogue 'On the Ground:' The Complicated Identities and the Complex Negotiations of Catholics and Hindus in South India" Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, 2004 vol. 17: 33-44. 40. Ibid.p.53-59. 41. Revised Standard Version, The Holy Bible,op.cit.Gospel of St.Luke,Chapter3.versus11. 23