Food and Faith2023-08-01T13:35:38+05:30

What is the role of religion in your life today? Do you pray? How do you pray? Do you commune with the divine through rituals? Is it through chanting verses during festivals? Or is it a comforting routine– going to 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? Do you think religion is a private act to be done in the confines of home, with family, not something to declare publicly? Are these questions making you uncomfortable?

To answer these and other questions, Shoba Narayan approaches faith through perhaps its most primal and nourishing aspect: food. She partakes of sacred food in shrines across India– Puri’s bhog, Amritsar’s langar, Palani’s panchamritam, Mathura’s pedas, Ambalapuzha’s paal-payasam, Kashi’s sweets, Jaipur’s rabdi, Ajmer’s kesaria bhat, Madurai’s dosai, Jewish halva in Mumbai, and communal feasts in Udupi, Goa and the Kumbh Mela.

Shrines visited

Favourite Prasadam

Tough Choice

Ambalapuzha Paal-payasam

But then I grew up with this

Kilometres logged

Table of Contents


Udupi: The Boy Who Stole Butter

Kashi: Living and Dying in the Centre of
the Hindu Universe

Ajmer: The Islamic Saint Who Welcomes Hindus

Palani: The Oldest Jam in the World

Mumbai: Rosh Hashanah with the Bene Israelis

Madurai: Witness to the Apocalypse

Jaipur: Singing and Dancing, Hindu-Style

Table of Contents

Goa: Dancing Under the Stars on Christmas

Thiruvananthapuram: The Elephant God’s Fried Dumplings 

Amritsar: Food, Community and a Holy Book

Puri: The Juggernaut That Moves a Chariot

Kumbh Mela: The Largest Human Gathering in the World

Kerala: Ambalapuzha’s Paal Payasam 

Patan: In Search of the Sky-Dancer Goddess 

Mathura: Dance of the Peacock 




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