KOTTAYAM: Think Christmas and one immediately dreams of feasting on a variety of non-vegetarian delicacies to break the 25-day-long Lent. But, for the members of Jeevan Daya Vedi, an organisation based in Kottayam, Christmas is the original day of Lent, and they observe it by fasting and partaking in vegetarian food. They have been following this unique practice for the past 16 years.“Marking the day with taking the lives of our fellow beings is not the way of celebrating Christmas. This is the message we want to spread among the people, especially Christians,” says M Kurian, a naturopathy follower and the chairman of Jeevan Daya Vedi.
Instead of making merry by eating meat, the families of around 70 members fast religiously on Christmas day.“While Jesus Christ was born to create lives in abundance on earth, how can we celebrate his birthday by killing our fellow beings? We wanted to highlight the sin of killing animals in the name of celebrating Jesus Christ’s birthday,” says Kurian, who is also a disciple of C R R Varma, a famous naturopathy practitioner. The organisation has been pointing out the health hazards of eating meat, citing a report that the incidence of cancer has been on the rise among Christians.
“When we started the practice at a Christian centre in Managanam in 2001, we had only two-three members,” says Kurian. “Over the years, we have travelled to various places spreading the message of ahimsa (non-violence) on Christmas day and the importance of switching over to vegetarian food. Last year, we visited 25 places during 25 Lent days. Now, there are 70 members in our organisation and more and more people are following in our footsteps.”
Historically, Christians had been vegetarians and became non-vegetarians only after Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the fourth century, says Kurian. “In Kerala, Christians were vegetarians till the 16th century and became non-vegetarian after the arrival of Portuguese traders,” he adds.
Tickling the taste buds
Some of the delicacies that adorn the‘Consoada’ tray are plum cake, tea cake, ghee biscuits, ‘matrimony’, kulkuls, coconut biscuits and banana fritters