Isabella Jackson ’21
Fasting. Now wouldn’t you say that that is the opposite of enjoying the heartiness of the earth. The farthest thing from gathering around a warm dish that lights up the soul and fills the belly. It’s ironic that in fasting’s rejection of food, it still can bring people together as humans and strengthen their faith. Abstaining from nourishment is a common practice in religions all across the globe, but why is it done? It’s a fascinating concept that breaking bread is not mutually exclusive to community, the struggles of denying oneself can also create that bond. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but I think a meal is a window to the heart. During times of fasting you are showing your devotion to a practice of faith bigger than yourself. Giving up the necessity of food to focus on something outside of the human body is the trade off to reach the supernatural.
Lent, Ramadan, Yom Kippur and many other times of fasting are a common uniting thread throughout religious practices. One of the holiest days of the year for Jewish families is Yom Kippur, where the atonement of sins and cleansing takes place. Fasting is a form of cleansing and is a usual practice facilitated on this holiday. Lent is followed by Catholics and Christians and is done in preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection. Giving up a need or a want to try and relate to the ultimate sacrifice given by Christ, being his death, is done in a time of fasting as well. Ramadan is a month of fasting under the faith of Islam. It is performed in order to abstain from fleshly desires in order to draw closer to the divine. This is where these times of fasting correlate, the desire to be in relationship with the supernatural. It draws you into the presence of God because it releases you of your own selfish desires. In an attempt to become closer with God, obstacles, one being food, is taken out of the way. The want to be in relationship with God overpowers the body’s desire for nourishment. But another beautiful part of fasting, is that it does come to an end, and it is normally followed by a large meal. Each time the sun goes down during Ramadan, families gather and eat dishes like Kabsa, tender meat and spiced rice, or Matazeez which is a hearty stew with dough dumplings and vegetables. Lent is followed by Easter where families gather to enjoy things maybe given up during lent or a beautiful lunch or dinner consisting of families personal recipes.
Food is a strong bond but people connected under faith are seemingly stronger. With each religion’s period of fasting, a celebration with people, love, and the beauty of food seems to follow closely behind.
Photo Credit: culturalawareness.com