Baha’is abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset for 19 days. While this abstention from food and drink is a test of one’s will and discipline, the Fast is not just about abstaining from food. The Fast is, primarily, a spiritual practice.
Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
The Baha’i Fast falls during the month of Ala–the last month of the Baha’i calendar. During these 19 days, Baha’is abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. While this abstention from food and drink is a test of one’s will and discipline, the Fast is not just about abstaining from food. The Fast is, primarily, a spiritual practice.
Pizza for the Soul – A Children’s Book About the Fast
I love the title of this book! Fasting became increasingly meaningful to me after I had children and eventually returned to physically partaking of the Fast–only now it’s done under the ever-watchful eyes of my kids. They are very aware that something special is happening and that their mother, despite her best efforts, might be hangry at times!
Pizza for the Soul is by Nasim Rohani and I was delighted to hear from her about how this book for children came to be!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Nasim Rohani and I was born and raised in Argentina. I came to live in Guayaquil, Ecuador almost ten years ago, to work for a Baha’i-inspired socio-economical development project. I got married here and live with my husband, my eight year old son and my two year old daughter. Since very young, I felt a love for writing so I became a journalist and got a bachelor in organizational communication, and later became a postpartum doula. I was raised in a mixed family (my dad is Iranian and my mum is Argentinian). I used to feel like the odd one out. I was the only Baha’i in my school and generally the first Baha’i people got to know in my town. I dreamed of a life where the Faith was known, where books talked about it and I could feel less of a weirdo. No one would know or celebrate our Holy Days. So when I became a mother, and saw how my kids where starting to develop a love for other religious celebrations I thought it was the time to start creating books for kids where they could see themselves pictured as Baha’is…where they could see the immense bounty and richness of Baha’i spiritual laws. That’s how Pizza for the Soul was born, just in time for fasting.
Can you tell us a little bit about Pizza for the Soul?
Pizza for the Soul is my first book and it was created in a simple, yet clear and complete explanation of Baha’i Fast for children from their perspective. It’s based in a conversation that, I’m sure, most Baha’i parents have had with their kids as they are fasting so everyone will feel familiar with the conversations pictured in the book. Initially it was created in Spanish for Spanish speaking people and Latin communities. Later it was translated to English. The story is about a boy, Amaru, who wakes up earlier than usual and finds his parents having breakfast at night! His parents started the Baha’i Fast. This concept is new to him and he has many questions. With patience and creativity, dad and mom explain to Amaru the benefits of the Fast and how long it lasts. Amaru feels motivated to do it too, but it’s not yet the time for him. He understands that being able to do the Baha’i Fast is a great gift from God.
What inspired you to write it?
What inspired me was the vision of my children and other kids reading this book at night with their parents, and feeling represented in their Faith. That, for me, is a major goal and a tender inspiration. It is also a way of transforming into art the sweet memory of these years: fasting with my son while he’s a child. After all, he is represented as Amaru.
What is something you learned in the process of writing this book?
Because I was new to the experience of publishing a book, I learnt to be persistant and open minded in the process. There is much work, trial and error, and steps that come before a book is published. I learnt to ask for help from people that are more experienced than me in this matter. I learnt that a book is the final work of many people working to make it happen, one way or the other.
Can you tell us a little bit about the illustrations?
The illustrations are a major part of the book. They are sweet, simple and vibrant as children are. With this idea in mind, I called an Argentinian illustrator, Florencia Ruiz, to help me with this project. She is not a Baha’i but as we had our first meeting she was on board. She fell in love with the project, felt connected and that’s something you can see in her final work. She really captivated the essence of the story: the radiant love, the simplicity, the innocence and curiosity and translated it in very soft and cheerful images. When the book was finished, she expressed how much she enjoyed being a part of the project and said that “now I feel I have a very deep understanding and respect for the Baha’i Fast”.
Who is its audience? What do you hope your readers will take away with them long after they’ve finished reading?
Pizza for the Soul is for kids between ages 6 to 10.
I hope readers will take with them a sense of tender love for the Baha’i Fast, rooted in their young hearts. These memories of fasting with your parents, your family, praying together in the morning or as the sun sets, are some of the precious memories of life.
Thank you so much, Nasim!
You can purchase Pizza for the Soul from a variety on online book retailers such as Amazon.
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.