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Official iftars in Gujarat an all-veg affair

    Ahmedabad (Gujarat), August 15, 2012: This happens only in Gujarat! Emperor Akbar turned a vegetarian here. Pizza Hut opened its first vegetarian outlet in Ahmedabad. And, now the US consul general hosted an iftar sans non-veg food.

    The blend between Jainism and Islam is not just limited to architecture in Gujarat , it manifests itself in the way of life here. When US consul general Peter D Haas hosted an iftar on Monday — the first ever outside Mumbai — to promote interfaith interactions , the menu provided some food for thought. The guests broke their fast with the traditional sherbet-e-iftar and dates, but the main course was not mutton kababs and chicken curry, it was potato and paneer sabzi.

    Despite being in Sadbhavana mode, the Narendra Modi government doesn’t host iftars , but many former chief ministers like Madhavsinh Solanki, Amarsinh Chaudhary and Chimanbhai Patel — all non-BJP CMs — regularly played host during Ramzan. Each one of them kept in mind local sensitivities and stuck to a vegetarian course.

    When BJP came to power in 1995, the then CM Keshubhai Patel was in two minds about hosting iftar lest he invite the ire of Sangh Parivar hardliners. But, former prime minister A B Vajpayee asserted that Keshubhai host iftar. He played host twice — but avoided non-vegetarian food. The Raj Bhavan, which has a tradition of hosting iftars , too sticks to a 100% veg menu. Observers say it is the strong Jain-Vaishnav ethos in the state which everyone — be it politicians or businessmen — respects, even while reaching out to other communities . Some years ago when Pizza Hut did a market survey in Ahmedabad before opening its first outlet in Gujarat , it was surprised by the overwhelming response for a vegetarian outlet. An Ahmedabad-based hotel and restaurant chain opened a 5-star pure vegetarian hotel in Surat . Akbar, who had great respect for Jainism, had banned slaughtering animals during Paryushan, the Jain festival. He even rolled back the Jazia tax from Jain pilgrim places like Palitana. Akbar had received a delegation led by a Jain monk who walked to Fatehpur Sikri and persuaded the emperor to forbid the slaughter of animals for six months in Gujarat. – News Courtesy: Times of India

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