As stories of growing violence in the name of religion and God continue to fuel mutual distrust and hatred within different communities, stories of selfless love, compassion, and kindness attain even more relevance. However, such stories hardly get the space and attention they deserve in mainstream media. We try to bring to you such stories that challenge the attempt to demonize religious communities, break popular myths and question the hatred that we are being fed in these trying times of religious intolerance and collective ethical and moral amnesia. Chef Vikas Khanna has one such story.
Kindness and mercy – two simple and precious words and building blocks of humanity that we are fast forgetting or discarding. It has been 26 years and every year since the 1992 riots in Mumbai, Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna, who is now a New York-based celebrity chef, has fasted for a day during the holy month of Ramadan to thank and honor a Muslim family even after losing touch with it. Not once did he miss or skip the fast and now, 26 years later, he has finally found that family and shared an Iftar meal after breaking his fast.
In 1992, Vikas Khanna was working as a trainee at Hotel Sheraton Sea Rock, when riots broke out in Mumbai, and he was stuck in the hotel. As many buildings were set on fire in Ghatkopar where his brother lived, he set out to find his brother. Khanna, who was new to the city, was wandering about the streets when a Muslim family noticed him. The family warned him against a mob of rioters hardly a few meters away and quickly ushered him into their house. This act landed the family into trouble as the furious mob soon descended upon their house to know who the person they had ushered in was. The family again showed unfailing courage by telling the mob that he was their son.
“I don’t know who they were or where I was during that time,” the chef recalls. Putting their own lives at risk, these strangers, with whom he had no relation, claimed that Khanna was their son, gave him shelter and food for two days, and sent a relative to find out about his brother, who was found to be safe.
On June 11th, chef Vikas Khanna successfully tracked down the family and spent an evening with them.
— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) June 13, 2018
It is true that the more you love, the more love you are given to love with. We can choose to be demons of hate or humans full of boundless love. The choice is ours.