He may have broken records before becoming the prime minister of India – four terms as chief minister being one of them - but Narendra Modi won’t break his fast, even for dinner with Barack Obama.
When the newly elected Hindu nationalist leader of the world’s largest democracy arrives on his first official tour of the US today, a White House dinner – a rare privilege, even for world leaders - will be on his official to-do list. But there’s another item that has been on Modi’s to-do list for almost 40 years: strictly fasting and not eating for the Hindu festival of Navratri.
During the nine-day festival, which devout Hindus celebrate to welcome fall, Modi will consume only liquids, usually lime-water or lemonade. In 2012, Modi wrote about the importance of this ritual on his blog: “Yes, I have been fasting during Navratri for over 35 years now. This fast is never to seek anything but an act of self-purification. Fasts such as this have been a source of strength, power and inspiration for me over the last many years.”
The famous White House Executive Chef, Cristeta Comerford, the first American of Asian descent to hold that role, will be tested for her creativity as the Obamas entertain their South Asian guest.
“We are aware of the Prime Minister’s plans to fast during his visit to Washington.” said Caitlin Hayden, Spokesperson of the National Security Council, to the government run Press Trust of India. “The President looks forward to a successful bilateral visit with the Prime Minister, and we do not anticipate this being an issue in any way."