January 2021 \ Diaspora News \ CREATIVE WRITING
Writing about sacred food helped me figure out my faith: Shoba Narayan

Award-winning author and columnist Shoba Narayan is a graduate from the Columbia Journalism ...

By Vishnu Makhijani

“Or is it a comforting routine - going to the mosque, church or temple once a week or month? Is religion part of your identity? Or is it something that you seek to distance yourself from? Is it an occasional activity that you do out of habit or because your parents ask you to? Or is it simply a connection with your heritage, home and ancestors?

“Do you think religion is a private act or can it be part of the public discourse? Are these questions making you uncomfortable? These are the questions that came up during the many pilgrimages that I undertook. These are the questions that I sought to answer in my writing,” Narayan elaborated.

And what a sweep it covers! Embracing shrines in Amritsar, Ajmer, Mumbai (the Bene Israelis), and Goa, besides the prominent Hindu temples, the book explores the powerful and intimate intertwining of food with faith, history, myth and identity.

A considerable amount of research has gone into its writing. “I started with a simple calculation. I would visit those temples that had good prasadam or sacred food offerings. These are, literally, foods for the gods, which belong to a time, place and a specific deity. After offering it to God, the devotees partake of this ‘gracious gift of God’,” Narayan said.