Today is the festival of Ganesh Chaturti. A day when many households welcome the Elephant God Ganesh into their homes with a sumptuous feast and festivity. A day that marks the starting of the list of festivals in India, the “saree season” as I call it.
As I am caught up in the whirlwind of shopping and getting ready for the festival I am secretly waiting for something else. The month-long no-meat ban comes to an end the day after the festival. Those who know me know that I am vegetarian and am definitely not missing meat. So what am I looking forward to? This has to do with my pet peeve – most of India excludes Eggs from the list approved as Vegetarian. And I so miss them. I am the “Sunday ho ya Monday, Roz Kaye ande” (Sunday or Monday, eat egged every day) type. Besides my affinity for eggs, I also find it hard to understand the logic behindtreating as “non-veg” in a country where milk and milk products are used extensively religious offerings included. In my eyes, there is no flesh, bone or blood; so it is hard for me to consider eggs as meat. I don’t think I am alone in that category – ask any meat eater, they wouldn’t consider eggs meat too!
I do know that the “pure” vegetarians amongst us would disagree. In fact, the purest among us would shun mushrooms, tofu and anything relatively foreign. The stricter Jains leave all the root vegetables out of their diet. It is just so blended in our lives, the multiple interpretations and practices of including or excluding certain food types, we don’t even bat an eyelid. But we hold on to it vehemently.
I am reminded of the movie “The Man who knew Infinity“, the one about the Math wiz Ramanujam. Ramanujam starts for England after much hesitation about crossing the ocean. And the one thing his mother tells him is this – “Don’t get polluted with their food over there”. And he doesn’t; choosing to starve rather than eat potatoes cooked in lard. The Buddhist sailor in the movie Life of Pi offers a different perspective. “I eat gravy with rice. Gravy is just taste” he says, trying to calm down the agitated mother of Pi, when the French cook suggests she remove the meat pieces and eat the gravy.
I think eggs would feature in the vegetarian diet of that Buddhist sailor. After all with high quality protein, Vit D, Choline and other nutrients, and remember, no blood or bones, why not?!
Sadly that is not the case in my part of the world. It doesn’t help that I grew up in a household that was fairly loose in imposing such rules. Religious restrictions on food were fervently followed by my parents but we kids could occasionally (like if you were invited to birthday party where something delicious but forbidden was being served) get away on account of being “kids”. Alas, no one told us when we grew up!!
Anyways, in the grand scheme of things, you pick your battles and this is certainly not the one to pick. It is after all 30 days in a year when you give up something nutritious, tasty and easy in the name of God. Although my kids never forget to correct me every time I mention this – if you do the actual calculation and add up all the religious days which includes Saturdays, New Moon days and the festivals, it amounts to a quarter of the year!!
Another year and having successfully held off, I am looking forward to omelettes, fried eggs, boiled eggs, the all-purposeful egg burning (spicy scramble), egg curry, egg fried rice and the million other dishes eggs can give shape to.
Feature Image by Joseph Gonzalez from http://www.unsplash.com