In line with the UNESCO Declaration, Expo Milano 2015, as an international platform for debate on food, has decided to mark the 13th annual World Day for Cultural Diversity by inviting some of the key representatives of the world’s religions to take part in a debate on the theme of food, from an ethical point of view.
Attending the meeting, which has been arranged by Expo in association with the Diocese of Milan’s Service for the Development of Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue, are Don Luca Bressan (Episcopal Vicar of the Archdiocese of Milan), Hamid abd al-Qadir Distefano (Imam, representative of Co.Re.Is, the Italian Islamic Religious Community), Giuseppe Platone (Pastor of the Waldensian Church in Milan), Elia Richetti (Rabbi, representative of the Milan Jewish Community), Vickie Sims (Chaplain of All Saints Anglican Church, Milan), Svamini Hamsananda Ghiri (Vice-President of the Italian Hindu Union), and Tenzin Khenze (Monk, representative of the Ghe Pel Ling Institute in Milan).
The Happiness Menu: every faith has its own recipe and its own blessing
Conceived in an ecumenical perspective, the Happiness Menu theme is informed by the wish to bring together the world’s faiths, considered by many to be a source of nourishment for the soul. The organizers believe that both traditions linked to food, and those linked to belief, can help people to help each other and to grow, each with their own recipe.
In the conviction that societies must strive to ensure harmonious integration between the different cultures and encourage all to participate in the life of the community for the good of all, and, as happened at the event held on April 23 (in Italian only), participants will be invited to concentrate on the similarities between the faiths, with special reference to safeguarding the planet, the environment, and preventing food waste. For, all agree that the environment is “the garden of the Lord that we need to tend with love and respect”. Highlighting the importance of food, the participants will be invited to bless the vegetarian menu that will be composed as a result of the meeting, a gesture of high symbolic importance.
Diversity enriches us on a cultural and on a human level
The event that took place on April 23 was one outcome of the meeting entitled The Expo of Ideas
("Le Idee di Expo verso la Carta di Milano") held on February 7, and where one of the topics discussed, with Monsignor Luca Bressan moderating, was how food and respect for the environment were powerful tools for bringing together people of different faiths (See an interview here, in Italian only).
UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
Indeed, this view is reflected in the first of the twelve Articles that go to make up UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
, which stresses the fact that cultural differences, including those related to religion are to be safeguarded, for, “As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature.”