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68 Countries, 11 religions, one message of peace: Thank you for this food

Culture / -

 
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'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
Cibo dello spirito, 1 settembre 2015
Andrea Mariani © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015
'Cibo dello spirito' a Expo 2015, 1 settembre 2015
Alessandro Cremasco © Expo 2015

The blessing of the food by eleven representatives of the world's major religions came together for a day of peace, sharing and discussion. Typical dishes were shared from 68 countries, including Palestine and Israel, at the signing of the Milan Charter and with the blessing of the "religion friendly" rice dish. Here's the story in pictures of the day "food of the spirit "in Expo Milano 2015.

Presented with dishes brought from 68 countries participating in Expo Milano 2015, representatives of different religions each gave an expression of thanks, prayer and gratitude for what was about to be eaten. After the blessings each religious leader signed the Milan Charter and everyone was able to enjoy the food that had been blessed.

 

It is the first time that so many religions have come together to perform a blessing

 

68 Countries and five civil society organizations actively participated in the occasion, wearing traditional dress and bringing a representative dish. Both Israel and Palestine took part. The event was opened with a welcoming speech by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Maurizio Martina and  Commissioner of the Government of Italy for Expo Milano 2015, Giuseppe Sala.

 

The representatives of the main religions and rice as a “religion-friendly" food

 

The meeting was conceived and moderated by the editor-in-chef of ExpoNet and Scientific Director of LifeGate, Simone Molteni. Participants included the Vice President of the Italian Hindu Union Sanatana, Dharma Svamini Hamsananda Ghiri; Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Milan, Elia Richetti; the Abbot of the Zen Monastery "The Circle", Carlo Tetsugen Serra; the Lama of the Tibetan Studies Center "Mandala", Paljin Tulku Rinpoche; the Pastor of the Evangelical Methodist Church, Dorothée Mack; the Episcopal Vicar of the Catholic archdiocese of Milan, Luca Bressan;  the Archimandrite of the Orthodox Church of Romania, Traian Valdman; the pastor of the Waldensian Evangelical Church, Giuseppe Platone; the Chairman of the Board of Christian Churches of Milan, Piergiorgio Acquaviva;Vice President of Coreis (the Italian Islamic Religious Community), Yahya Pallavicini and the President of the House of Muslim Culture in Milan, Mahmoud Asfa.

 

Chef Ambassador of Expo Milano 2015, Pietro Leemann prepared a dish with vegetarian, kosher and halal ingredients so as to be in harmony with the teachings of all religions represented. The slightly spicy dish was made with fragrant basmati rice with saffron, cabbage and a vegan sauce made of peppers.

For maximum appeal and to include also non-believers there was a secular blessing read in three languages ​​(Italian, English and French) by three children - a Ukrainian boy, an Italian-Croatian girl and an Egyptian boy. This secular blessing had been,shared with Civil Society Participants of Expo, from Cascina Triulza and LabE from the Fondazione Feltrinelli, which highlighted all aspects of the Universal theme dear to Milan: sustainability, the fight against food waste and respect for food and all living beings. At the end of proceedings, all the visitors were able to enjoy the food that had been blessed.

 

Everybody pauses for a moment of prayer, for food

Culture / -

Preghiera per il cibo
© Lindsay Hebberd/Corbis

Every culture in the world and every religious tradition have formulas and moments for giving thanks for the food on our table, as a sign of our union with our fellow diners. The event ‘Food for the spirit’ at Expo Milano 2015 reiterated a message of brotherhood and reconciliation, in full respect of the differences which exist between the various religions on our Planet.

When travelling all over the world, it is possible to encounter populations that are very different, in terms of their traditions and lifestyles. Some of them have not even discovered writing yet, while others are hyper-connected and constantly wired up to technology. Some are ultra-rich, others are desperately poor. However they all have one thing in common: at least once in their histories they have been used to pausing for a moment before eating their meal to bless their food, saying a prayer or even just remain silent for a few seconds. 

Gratitude for food, an inter-religious sentiment 
A short pause, but one that embodies a deep meaning: gratitude for the food that we need to survive. 

Sometimes it is a religious habit; in other cases it is a small gesture of the lay person that simply acknowledges the food. Even pronounced atheists have their own rituals (for instance they may stop for a few seconds before taking their knife and fork). 
In each case, regardless of the words that are said (if indeed any are said), this is a moment we need if we are to regain consciousness of what we are doing, and avoid trivializing a daily practice that should never be taken for granted. 

Wealthier populations appear to have lost this habit: when food appears directly on the tables of those accustomed to more, after being cultivated, farmed, processed and delivered by someone else, it is much easier to forget just how valuable it is. 

‘The food for the spirit’ in the Charter of Milan 
During the inter-religious meeting held on May 21 to mark the UN Day of cultural diversity, those in attendance experienced a symbolic moment charged with strong emotion: each representative blessed the food with a prayer chosen from their own religious tradition. And then this same “superfood” was eaten by all the participants. The Jewish rabbi ate the food blessed by the Islamic imam and by the Buddhist monk, the Catholic priest ate the food also blessed by the Hindu and Protestant traditions… and so on for all the attendees, including the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Maurizio Martina, a non-believer, but nonetheless touched as were his fellow diners.

The biodiversity of religious traditions, a valuable resource

Culture / -

Cibo dello spirito nella Carta di Milano
Barbara Francoli © Expo2015

The 13th anniversary of the World Day for Cultural Diversity was celebrated in Expo Milano 2015 by inviting religions to participate in a debate on the theme of food. During the meeting organized in the Theatre at the Centre of the Earth in the Biodiversity Park, each speaker illustrated their thoughts on the themes of food production and consumption and on the protection of the Planet. Then, each one blessed the meal, in their own particular way.

Science has already widely demonstrated that biodiversity is one of the most precious resources available to us to ensure the quality of our future and the resilience of our food system. 

Today's event aimed to demonstrate that cultural biodiversity (in this case the type specific to the various religious traditions) is also a valuable resource that we should strive to use as effectively as possible.
 
Over these last few years, science has rapidly led us to discover new technologies and new knowledge with a frenetic rhythm that makes in-depth comprehension difficult to achieve. 

And now, precisely when scientific knowledge is offering us such a wide range of choices, this is the right moment for cultural and religious traditions to help us out. Indeed now, as we are faced with so many choices and opportunities, it becomes essential for us to have clear ideas about who we are: only by knowing ourselves and our values well that  we enable us to succeed in making the right choices that allow us to design the world we desire.

Comparing different elements causes several basic principles to emerge 
Comparing different religious traditions immediately demonstrates that there are some basic principles common to everyone, and that they should not, under any circumstances, be taken for granted. 

For example, regarding the procedures we should use to produce food that nourishes us, all the religions agree that the Earth was given to us to safeguard and preserve, and not so that we could take advantage of it and strip it of its resources. Therefore, agriculture and productive processes should always respect nature's regenerating cycles and minimize the chemical agents and substances that lead to the impoverishment of the Earth in the long term. 

The ideas about how we raise animals are also very clear: our objective must be to avoid violence, and favor an attitude of respect and gratitude. If these concepts were to be applied to reality, we would certainly witness a revolution in all the production chains. 

The approach is not ideological, the solutions are concrete 
The unexpected gift we receive from a quality inter-religious debate is the realization that our approach is never ideological and that our directions are very concrete: the Islamic concept of "integral" food that must not corrupt the earth or men, is also reflected in the practical indications of Judaism (according to which, it is forbidden to plant vines and corn near one another; and in fact is an action that impoverishes the land) and can also be found across the other traditions. 

When the theme is food waste, the game becomes easy. If religions were to lay down the law, it would be easier to recover food not sold by supermarkets and shops that would otherwise be wasted. (the same food that organizations such as Food Banks working hard to collect).
 
 
 
 

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