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Celebrate Food diversity

Food culture need to be celebrated. I wish to see people coming together eating everything.
Peoples Voice on December 5, 2015 - 4:58 pm in Culture

It is interesting to see some of the students who organise beef festival terming me as Islamophobe and part of Hindutva game plan since I said food should be celebrated and I wish to say that they could have organised a festival where all kind of people come and enjoy the food.

I dont need to repeat here whether I am a Hindutva agent or Islamic agent or a state agent or caste agent. I speak for myself and stand with all those who are fighting for their human rights. There is a fact that I am a dissenter among dissenters and hence the problem start.

I have similar views earlier also as I wish to state that there is enormous diversity with in the Dalit Bahujan communities. And the brahmanical hatred against beef is its linkage to Muslims. It is their effort to tease muslims that they use Pork to counter it. My point is that both these taboos could be easily challenged if we have food together since the Dalit Bahujans and many others eat both of them. I bet if beef was not linked to Muslims, we would not have any violence. The Hindutva’s communal fringe want to do that to polarise the atmosphere in the country. Hence we should strategise it in a much better way.

Let beef eaters, pork eaters, vegetarians, those non vegetarians who dont eat beef and pork come and enjoy the delicacies together. As I said I have not asked for any ban as I am against the ban culture. I was only reacting to foolish and intimidating statement of the BJP MLA who was threatening to kill the people if the beef festival goes on. As friends there may be many suggestions and voices by many like us who have known the sinister designs of communal forces and who want to communalise the University campuses.

Beef is the food of Dalit Bahujan communities is a very generalised statement which we should avoid. It is like linking beef with Muslims and Christians. In the north east beef is the food of every one including Buddhists. In South East Asia all the Buddhists countries eat each kind of meat but in India Buddhists might say no to this. I say, Dalit Bahujan communities are as diverse as any one else. Beef might be the food choice of Dalit Bahujan communities in the Telangana or South but it is not so in the north where Goats, lambs and most importantly Porks are part of Dalit Bahujan food culture. Beef was part of upper caste food in Nepal and many part of Uttarakhand once upon a time. Even during the Dushera days, Nepal has huge buffalo slaughtering. The Yadavas, Kushwahas, Kurmis, Marathas , Jats, Gujjars and other OBCs rear animals and dont kill them as they use cows for milk purposes. I am not going into history lessons as why they do it but currently they do it.

Let me be clear that food culture is developed locally and geographically. Culturally there are certain taboos for various communities. Pork became taboo for Muslims and Cow for Hindus. A large number of communal rights in India has happened because of the two. So much so that Prof Iqbal Ansari once suggested Muslims to voluntarily leave the beef but I confronted him saying that we must enjoy food culture. His argument would only prove as if only Muslims are beef eaters which the Sangh Parivar want to communicate. If he want voluntarily Muslims leave beef habit then the Hindus or others who eat Pork must do so. It is a give and take relationship. For me rather than doing this, the best is to enjoy and not impose our wills on others.

Let me be candid here. If only Dalits and Bahujans were eating beef, there would never had been any problems for the goons of Hindutva. It is the Muslims who they want to starve. Dont we know there were sacrifices in the vaidik period including horses. What was ‘Ashwamedh Yajna’. Prof D.N.Jha and many other historians have written about beef eating practices among caste Hindus. We also know that most of the beef exporters are caste Hindus who are enjoying government’s largess

I again say that there was no demand from my side to ban the food festival. Neither I am a person who would say we should not eat it. I grew up eating pork during student days in Dehradun as it was cheapest available food and I enjoyed it. Today, I relish any food which is eatable and local in nature. I have on record say how Kerala’s beef is perhaps the best beef that i have ever eaten so in any part of the world. I want to add here I enjoyed all varieties of beef as it is perhaps best food available abroad.

Food culture need to be celebrated. I wish to see people coming together eating everything. I dont say you should not challenge the brahmanical hegemony but hegemony inside us also. If we feel that all the Dalit Bahujans eat beef and all non Dalit Bahujans are vegetarian then we are caught in the brahmanical lies. There are thousands of Ambedkarite Buddhists who do not eat meat. There are thousands of Muslims who are vegetarians and there are millions of Hindus who eat meat and many who eat beef of all variety. It was this point that I wanted to communicate that please respect diversities among the Dalit Bahujan communities and make your festivities inclusive yet if you feel I am wrong, I defend your right to have your beef festival. My comments were aimed at the MLA’s remark and not at the students who were organising. I never knew who are they and as a well wisher I only expressed the view point that they could have done a bit more and make the festival a time to celebrate our diversity.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Radical Humanist, political analyst and human rights activist

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