48TH INTERNATIONAL VEGAN FESTIVAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL VEGETARIAN UNION (IVU)
by Marly Winckler - IVU Chair
MUMBAI – CHENNAI – AHMEDABAD
OCTOBER 27-28, 20023 / NOVEMBER 1-2, 2023 / NOVEMBER 4-5, 2023
It was an intense season, three Festivals in three different cities, united by the common commitment to spread veganism and its huge benefits for our own health, for the animals and for the Planet. Each one has its own characteristics, all interesting, productive and fulfilling the proposed objectives – and more.
I'm returning to India after 9 years, when we had the 42nd IVU World Vegfest in Chennai (and before that in Dubai) in 2014, organized by Sandhia Prakash in Dubai and Ashok Kumar, president of the APVU - Asia-Pacific Vegan Union, in Chennai. In 9 years the vegan scene has expanded significantly, as in the rest of the world, as a result of several groups and individuals working hard to spread the vegan message. Many vegan groups and organizations everywhere, new products entering the market, the word vegan itself being better known, and options offered in restaurants, hotels and establishments in general. But there is still a lot to be done, including the task of teach what veganism is, and how to prepare nutritious and tasty meals without any animal products and help the industry and stablishments in general to provide vegan products.
We are all connected by the Internet, but nothing replaces personal contact and these Festivals provide an ideal environment for the exchange of experiences, strengthening ties, animating the flame to carry out the hard work of spreading our vegan message in a world that is still mostly omnivorous.
It took me 30 hours between flights and transit to get to India. For the strong. For those who have a cause to defend and promote, that engages their whole being and their convictions. For vegans lol. When I arrived in Mumbai at 8 am, after customs clearance and the purchase of some rupees, I went straight to a spa where I had pre-scheduled a massage, because no one is made of iron, and we are in India, the country of sublime massages.Soon after, I rushed to my first lunch, where I met dear long-time vegan activist friends – and new friends, whom I knew only through the Internet.
Inauguration of the 48th organized in partnership with the in Chennai, India
I had the pleasure of meeting, already in Mumbai, but who also participated in the other events, Dr Sailesh Rao, Executive Director at . Dr Sailesh travels the world spreading the word about the problems related to Climate Change – and the solution to the Cure, veganism.
Shankar and Sailesh at Ahmedabad Ahimsa Vegan Festival
At the event organized by Shankar in Bangalore, in 2010, I stayed at the hotel of Jayaram Hr, founder of . He came from Bangalore in the morning to see me, stayed a few hours, and went back to Bangalore, which honored me very much. Jayaram does an amazing job on his organic farm.
Jayaram and Marly
We cannot fail to thank Jayanthy and her team, and also the hostess, Sister Beena, who did everything to welcome us in the good atmosphere of his Retreat, with vegan food, prepared with care. Everyone was always very happy and helpful, the event was very pleasant and left its mark on the approximately 300 health professionals, including doctors, nutritionists and therapists and others attendees.
Sister Beena of the Brahma Kumaris putting the memory on me, Jayanthy and Ashok Kumar. In the back, Dr. Sailesh Rao.
There were a lot of people and good conversations went all the time and I just can't list them all. So I leave here a collective thank you to everyone who participated in any way in this magnificent event. Certainly, much good fruit will come from this meeting.
DR CHINNY KRISHNA AND THE BLUE CROSS OF INDIA
I spent a few hours in Chennai on November 3rd, because in the evening I would have to catch a flight to the next event in Ahmedabad. I then went to meet Dr Chinny Krishna, in his factory, from where we went to visit the Sanctuary where he keeps more than 2,000 animals rescued from all kinds of mistreatment, being run over, abandonment, etc. He maintains a veterinary hospital, with six ambulances that rush through the streets of Chennai rescuing animals in precarious situations.
It was a great honour to have met Dr Chinny Krishna, Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of
AHMEDABAD AND THE VEGANS OF GUJARAT
Finally the third leg: Ahmedabad, where we were welcomed by the Vegans of Gujarat, an active and committed young group, for the Ahimsa Vegan Festival 2023 on November 4th and 5th, organized by dear Shikha and team. I had the opportunity to get closer to Harsha and also to the first vegan climber to climb Everest, Kuntal Joisher, who has an incredible history. His videos on youtube are worth seeing. He is a nutritionist and talked about his athlete's diet.
The vegan alpinist Kuntal and Marly
The event took place at the University of Gujarat and attracted many young people and college students. The atmosphere of the event was excellent, of unity and fraternization. With the presence of several other vegan groups from other parts of India it let a mark on the vegan scene of Ahmedabad.
There were two intense days of lectures, artistic presentations, with emphasis on the theater set up by the dear Manjushree, portraying the separation of the calf from the mother.
The last day coincided with my birthday and we went to celebrate in a restaurant, as a kind invitation of Asa Narinder, IVU Council Member who was supposed to attend all the events, but at last minute was not able to. Thank you Asa and congratulations to Gujarat Vegans for the excellent event.
I celebrated my birthday with dear friends from Vegans of Gujarat and various other places in the world.
PALITANA – THE VEGETARIAN CITY
On the 6th of November, Saurabh and I went to Palitana, the town where it is forbidden to sell any kind of meat and eggs. It is the first of the two vegetarian cities in the world. In 2014, Palitana became the first city in the world to be legally vegetarian. It has prohibited, or made illegal, the buying and selling of meat, fish and eggs, as well as related work such as fishing and the raising of "food animals".
It is also a Jain pilgrimage center. Palitana is the only mountain in the world that has more than 900 temples. The city has strong links with the temple complex at the top of the mountain. Many pilgrims visit it permanently, and monks and nuns climb the staircase of 3,800 stone steps every day to pay their respects to the Jain saints and offer their prayers.
We stayed at the Dharamsala (pilgrims' house) and the next day early in the morning we climbed the mountain.
In addition to many pilgrims, the monks and nuns climb the 3800 steps to the top of the mountain every day. Many seniors do the same.
There are several stations until you reach the top. In this one there is a huge bell, which we can ring.
BACK TO AHMEDABAD
Back in Ahmedabad I stayed with the dear filmmaker Manjushree Abhinav, one of the organizers of the Ahimsa Festival. I went with her to thank the principal of Silver Oak University who provided students for the staging of the play that Manjushree directed. The principal invited me to speak to a class of sociology students, coincidentally my profession. I spoke, of course, about the advantages of vegan food, which is how to get out of a vicious circle and enter a virtuous circle where everything is good and beneficial. Dear Daksha is responsible for seeing if the University's canteen can offer vegan options.
Silver Oak University – Sociology students I spoke to about the veneficies of veganism
BACK TO MUMBAI – BACK TO BRAZIL
I finally returned to Mumbai to catch the flight back to Brazil. It was intense, but it was rewarding, as always. Very good to contact with so many vegans which gives hope that the tragedy of the 'sacred cow', among other things, will come to an end. Mahatma Gandhi had already made an unsuccessful attempt to abstain from milk. I relate this story in Would Gandhi be Vegan Today?
Changing a culture and ingrained habits is no easy task, even more so when there are heavy economic interests involved. But that's what we have to do. We have to, with the union of all, make it known to everyone that the concept of Ahimsa necessarily asks us to be vegan.
Ahimsa is the abstention from any kind of violence. It doesn't just mean not killing, but not voluntarily inflicting any damage, suffering or pain on any living being, by words, thoughts or actions. It means the highest degree of harmlessness. Not causing violence or harm to any living being is an integral part of Ahimsa. Eating in a way that does not cause violence or harm to any living being is one of the requirements of this central principle of Gandhi's philosophy and life. Strict vegetarian eating, that is, without any animal ingredients, is a fundamental and integral part of a world without violence, healthy, sustainable and that respects all forms of life. This was the world that Mahatma Gandhi sought.
Gandhi and Henry Salt on his right, at a meeting of the London Vegetarian Society – November 20, 1931
This is what we have to seek and try to implement in all parts of the world. That's what IVU's mission is.
Thank you, dear friends and colleagues! See you soon!
In India like the Indians. Last breakfast before returning to Brazil. Masala dosa and idlis, which are accompanied by sambar and tomato and coconut chutney. And a black coffee with a Brazilian touch. All vegan by nature.
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