Food and Religion

Food and religion are two intermarrying concepts in the sense that food allows religious practitioners to faithfully relate to each other, the world they live in and the god they serve. In other words, through food, the meaning of certain rituals, for instance, the Hindu deity feedings and the Christian communion can best be understood. Food relates to purity and that food in overall influences religion. In the article, “Conversion Through Foodways Enculturation: The Meaning of Eating in an American Hindu Sect,” Singer is explicit about arguing that food identifies ones’ religion and even culture. Food symbolizes peoples’ ideas and beliefs.  While talking about religious values and beliefs, Singer argues that in most denominations, food leftovers are left for their gods, an act that symbolizes respect and trust. A good example is Prasadam, is a term used to describe foodstuffs embraced by devotees of Krishna. To these people, their Prasadam is pure, full of favor, kindness, clearness, radiance, and calmness. Though am not of any religion, I can assert that the behaviors of these devote is characterized by their foodstuffs in the sense that they can act holy since they are sanctified just by eating their Prasadam. This is to mean that eating Prasadam transforms the people spiritually, mentally and physically. At one point, the devotees believe in this Prasadam if they want to be secure from death and other things that bring bitterness.  To my understanding, the believers of Krishna are determined to eat from the “ananda” which better explained as “the nectar of truth” to survive the world which is a place of misery. They thus trust in the Prasadam as their only way that will bring happiness to them through a long life. And if they are to die, then it should happen in the old age.

Just like the first article,—– creates relativity between food and religion through the lens of ethnicity. The representation of minority groups in American society had become a stiff issue, where their rights were violated. The writer argues that the matter had been rooted deep in the American culture until Allah sent Elijah Muhammad who represented the blacks. According to the Muslim ideology on gender roles as well as the proper way of behaving, Elijah Muhammad came forth to set suitable rules that could act as the soul food for the people. This fact can be best understood from the case in which Malcom X refused to eat pork inside and outside the prison. The refusal act was aimed at startling the convicts who were of the white origin. In other words, Muhammad’s dietary was the best cross-class strategy which people could use to resist white people stereotyping people of color. In his dietry manuals; “How to Eat to Live” book one and two, he talks of natural foods and the gourmet plague which, to him, appeared to be soul foods on their own. In other words, we recognize the fact that Muhammad stigmatized all foods that related to the soul, since these foods impacted on the cultural dominance of his enemies, in this case, the black Christianity. We thus can argue that food played a major role in the construction of selfhood in the Islamic culture. For instance, in explaining the equation of filth as it relates to black women, Muhammad through his structures of dietary exploits the “pork and women” concept. To Muhammad, explains black female sexuality through listing the kind of foods he suggests people should eat and those not to eat like the pork. He argues that pigs are sources of mental illnesses and other forms of sicknesses. To my understanding, while talking about the southern black diet, Muhammad chose the non-scriptural strategy to show the need to prohibit other foods while embracing others.