By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Fillet of sole with tyrolienne sauce. Supreme of pheasant Veronique. Chocolate lotus blossoms. These are culinary creations that were served in the past to Indian prime ministers visiting the White House.
But on Monday, when India’s newest leader meets with President Barack Obama, his plate will be empty.
That’s because Narendra Modi will be in the middle of a strict fast for Navratri, Sanskrit for nine nights. It's a Hindu festival devoted to the manifestations of the goddess Shakti, a symbol of purity and power.
Navratri’s timing depends on the lunar calendar but usually is observed once in March-April to usher in summer and again in September-October, before winter. Modi intends to survive solely on “nimbu pani” or water with lemon for nine days. FULL POST
By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - Amid the iconic art in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, Pope Francis told mothers that it's acceptable to breastfeed their children in public, even in holy sites like churches.
Children's voices, even when crying, make "the most beautiful choir of all," Francis said during a service in which he baptized 32 children.
"Some will cry because they are uncomfortable or because they are hungry," the Pope said. "If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus."
The Sistine Chapel, with its famous frescoes by Michelangelo, is the official chapel of the Apostolic Palace, traditionally the papal residence. Francis, though, lives in the Vatican guesthouse, Casa Santa Marta, saying it better suits his low-key style.
The Pope's remarks echo statements he made to an Italian newspaper in December in which he tied breastfeeding to the problem of global hunger.
(CNN) - Break out the menurkeys and sweet potato latkes, people, it's time to celebrate Thanksgivukkah, a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.
A calendrical quirk brings the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving together this Thursday for the first time since 1888. Scientists say the confluence won't occur again for another 70,000 years, give or take a millennium.
Dana Gitell, a 37-year-old marketing manager for a Jewish nonprofit in Massachusetts, is the mind behind the mashup "Thanksgivukkah."
(If you think that's a mouthful, her other ideas were "Thanksgiving-ukkah" and "Hanukkahgiving," both of which caused our spellchecker to sputter and die.)
But with the right portmanteau in place, the Thanksgivukkah idea caught fire faster than a deep-fried turkey.
By Saad Abedine. Hala Gorani and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
(CNN) - Muslims throughout the world have been marking Eid al-Adha, but in war-torn Syria there is nothing to celebrate. Most people are struggling to meet the most basic of needs: food, water, and shelter.
Their plight has been highlighted by Arabic media reports which cite a fatwa, or religious ruling, by a local imam which allowed people who are desperately hungry to eat dogs and cats.
Eating dog, cat or donkey is forbidden under Islamic dietary laws.
The imam in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the capital, Damascus, reportedly said at a mosque Friday that dog, cat and donkey meat could be eaten "after reaching a desperate need and the stores of food were inadequate to feed the population under the siege."
Yarmouk has been besieged for months by Syrian government forces seeking to flush out rebel fighters.
During the Eid al-Adha holiday, considered one of Islam's most revered observances, many Muslims around the world sacrifice a sheep and share the meat with the poor. It corresponds with the height of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that annually draws 2 million Muslims.
Outside Syrian, Muslims held more plentiful Eid al-Adha celebrations.
MORE ON CNN: Photos: Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) Mmm - sacralicious?
A Chicago restaurant is pushing the boundaries of bad taste with its October Burger of the Month.
Kuma's Corner, a heavy-metal themed joint with an "Eat beef; bang your head" ethos, says its new burger is an homage to Ghost, a Swedish band that performs satanic songs in Catholic clerical garb.
"The Ghost" burger features a "Communion wafer garnish," a white, unleavened disc bearing the imprint of a cross and a crown.
SAVANNAH, Georgia (CNN) - The Food Network announced Friday that it will not renew the contract of Paula Deen after she admitted using a racial epithet – but a black pastor who is friends with the celebrity chef said she "can't be a racist."
Deen apologized Friday for "the wrong that I've done," a move that follows revelations this week that she admitted saying the N-word.
But Pastor Gregory A. Tyson Sr. from First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, defended Deen to WTOC, a CNN affiliate.
"I know her," Tyson said. "My children have been to her house. I've been to her house, I've sat on her furniture. I've been all through her house. What racist would let a black man walk all through her house?"
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – In the last two days, newly installed Pope Francis has become increasingly vocal about economics issues.
On Wednesday, the Pope Francis made reference to a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed upwards of 400 people in a sharp condemnation of worker exploitation and “slave labor.”
"Not paying a just (wage), not providing work, focusing exclusively on the balance books, on financial statements, only looking at making personal profit. That goes against God!" Pope Francis in his homily.
On Thursday, Pope Francis continued with his economic message by tweeting “My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centred mindset bent on profit at any cost,” to his almost 2.5 million followers.
By Nathan Berrong, CNN
As the Easter Season approaches, I will be making a conscious effort to eat some great food and seek out some great beers. I’ve listed a few of those beers below, specifically, ones that have some kind of religious symbolism or background. Not to worry though, if religion isn’t your thing and Easter means a bunny hiding colored eggs, I’ve got you covered too.
Gouden Carolus Easter – The Gouden Carolus brewery traces its roots back to 15th century Belgium when Christian women were responsible for brewing beer and lived in communal settings known as Beguines. This beer (pictured), released once a year around Easter, is deep red in color and tastes of plums and licorice.
Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Saison – Sierra Nevada has collaborated with local monks on their Ovila series in an effort to create Trappist-style ales with American brewing techniques. The Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California, plays an integral role in each of the Ovila beers. This particular one, the Abbey Saison, contains mandarin oranges that were grown and handpicked by some of the monks.
(CNN)–All over the world, people gather to celebrate Passover – the holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's escape from slavery in Egypt. For seven or eight days (depending on where you live), families and friends come together for festive seder meals packed with ritual foods and a few dietary restrictions (for instance, no leavened grains).
And while many traditions remain the same the world over, favorite regional recipes can bring communities closer together. Here, families from Israel, Estonia and India share a few of their favorites, courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, to make your celebration a little larger in spirit.
Read the full story on CNN's Eatocracy
(CNN)–Mary DeTurris Poust, author and Catholic blogger, explains how faith helped her deal with self- image and eating issues.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.