Hindu man's Ramadan fast bridges divides

"Good karma": Kartik Mohandas believes understanding and respect between religious communities is key. Picture: Anna Warr

"Good karma": Kartik Mohandas believes understanding and respect between religious communities is key. Picture: Anna Warr

WHEN he breaks his Ramadan fast most nights, Hindu man Kartik Mohandas meditates while his Muslim friends recite Islamic prayers.

The Parramatta resident has forgone food during daylight hours since June 29 for the Islamic holy month, to "find out what millions and billions of Muslims around the world go through" each year.

"It's easy to criticise without actually putting yourself through the motions of what another community goes through," Mr Mohandas said.

"Fasting exists in most messianic religions. Navratri is a period where Hindus fast for nine days and hold festivities on the 10th day.

"So fasting is not specific to any culture."

The occasional smoker said while forgoing cigarettes during his days had been "easy," food was a slightly different matter.

Aside from any psychological or spiritual effects, he said the experience has been highly physical.

"Your hands go cold, you lose weight, you get stomach cramps, your lips start cracking and chapping fairly quickly.

"It makes you realise how fortunate you are to be able to afford three meals a day."

Mr Mohandas said he broke his fast for four days last week when he had the flu, but was back on board until Eid-al-fitr — the breaking of the fast — at the end of July.

"If you're going to feel sick, you do what needs to be done." While many reactions to his experiment have been positive, he said others had been slightly more "sectarian".

"I have only one phrase and it comes from a vedic [Sanskrit] text, vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means "the world is my family".

"Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, they all had their revelations out in the desert after fasting.

"There's got to be something to it, some experience that they went through.

"But it doesn't have to be very serious, just approach it with an open heart."

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