Gujarat is a state in northwestern India, an economic and cultural hub of the Indian subcontent, which incorporates elements dating back to the period of ancient Indo-Saraswatic culture, Arab and Persian elements, Mughal elements (Turkish-Mongolian ), Gandhi was born here and is also home to the ancient city of Dwarka where Krishna is said to have been born.
Here the first vegetarian city of history is born : Palitana.
The Jain philosophy
Palitana is one of the most important cities of all for the Jain religion, even after the arrival of the Muslims and the British. Jainism is a dharmic religion, originating in India, which is based on three cornerstones: non-violence towards all forms of life, non-possessiveness, and the rejection of dogmatism, or respect for all points of view.
In addition to this his followers follow the so-called 5 votes: the first, already mentioned, is the refraining from procuring violence, the second is not lying, the third is not stealing, the fourth is sexual and emotional purity, and the last is non-attachment.
In addition to the most common religious precepts such as meditation, prayer and the reading of sacred scriptures, the Jains have specific precepts regarding the approach to food : on the one hand they practice ritual fasting rather often, on the other, just to respect in drastically the principle of non-violence, they are strictly vegetarian and the most extreme among them carry a mask to not breathe the smallest forms of life, sweep the ground in front of the feet to avoid stepping on insects, and do not eat the roots and rhizomes of plants not to kill them completely.
Palitana: from philosophy to law
On the basis of this widespread ethical heritage in the area, especially in the city of Palitana, a cultural turning point was established that in 2014 became law: the Palitana authorities have established that it is against the law to buy and sell meat, fish and eggs, making illegal trades such as the fisherman, the butcher and all those jobs related to the production, trade and preparation of foods related to meat, fish and their derivatives, milk excluded.
The choice of the authorities, which left the Muslim community forbidden, which, unlike the larger Jain, uses meat, but is based not only on ethical-religious precepts.
Palitana: not just philosophy
At the base of this choice there are also perspective studies and assessments regarding numerous points raised also in the West by vegetarian and vegan communities. First of all the non-sustainability of a model of society based on the consumption of meat .
It is known that the production of meat on a large scale is one of the first causes of pollution in the world as regards the emission of greenhouse gases, and is a cause of deforestation and desertification of the territories. On the side we also find other studies, related to the impact on human health of an immoderate consumption of meat and derivatives .
Palitana: a model for the rest of the world?
Palitana, with the support of the Jain monks and resisting the Muslim pressures that have claimed and still claim the right to consume meat and derivatives in order to regain energy during Ramadan, is therefore becoming a first interesting food and social experiment.
A model and an attempt at a totally vegetarian city, more precisely a lacto-vegetarian one, which acts as a forerunner to see the actual sustainability of an ethical and healthy diet on such a large scale, to study any defects and drifts, or if it can actually represent an interesting precedent for extending this environmentally sustainable option to other parts of the globe .
We now know that since August 2014 there has been a whole city, including offices, schools, hospitals and so on, which is carrying out this ideal and this experiment .
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Credit photo Sid The Wanderer