Khichdi : 60 Essays Spiritual and Secular

Pereira J. Myron SJ

2021, pp 286, Price: Rs 500/-; Published by the author, and can be purchased from him:

Khichdi, as is well known, is a cheap and nutritious dish, a favourite in South Asian cuisine. Khichdi is also Jesuit Fr Myron J. Pereira's fourth collection of essays on sacred and secular topics, and the author claims, it's as tasty and nutritious as the dish we enjoy. We agree.

The anthology under review is a double celebration; 2021 marks Fr Myron's diamond jubilee as a Jesuit - one reason why there are 60 articles in the book. Most of these have been published in online publications such as UCA News and La Croix International. And just as khichdi is a complete meal in itself, Fr Myron's political, cultural, historical, spiritual and social commentaries are all incisively written with the author's characteristic cogency and insight.

Some examples – in "India: Superstitious and Conservative", he shows that the religious character of most Indians is not defined by sacred rituals, but is rather superstitious, "…and infected with the conceit that 'we are the best', no matter how glaringly wretched the reality is."

In "Freedom of Speech and the Feudal State", he makes the telling point that most Western countries prize freedom of speech above all, because it has been dearly won. And that, "the Muslim migrants who know this is so, seek the safety and economic prosperity of the secularised societies of Europe, rather than migrate to their own repressive and intolerant Islamic countries."

Fr Myron offers valuable responses to such pressing problems as the paedophilia crisis in the Church, which sees sexual offences as sins against God, not as crimes against children and youth. Such crimes must be reported to the police, and not merely confessed to a priest.

All in all, Khichdi is a critique of obscurantism, fanaticism, prejudice and illusions. The author's preferred choice of weapon? Reason.

Ronita Torcato