For Vikas Khanna, Ramzan is a special time of the year.
The Amritsar-born Indian-American restaurateur has made it a point to observe a one-day fast during the holy month for the last 26 years. It’s his way of expressing his gratitude to a Muslim family that had saved him from a rampaging mob during the 1992 Mumbai riots. And he had been trying to find them ever since.
His search finally came to an end on Monday. The following day, the celebrity chef took to Twitter to share the news of his reunion with the people to whom he owed his very life. “Heartwarming evening. All Heart. Tears. Pain. Pride. Courage. Humanity. Gratitude. This will be the most significant and important EID of my life. Thank you everyone to connect me with my souls,” he posted on the social networking site.
All Heart. Tears. Pain. Pride. Courage. Humanity. Gratitude. This will be the most significant and important EID of my life. Thank you everyone to connect me with my souls. pic.twitter.com/apdposBSDe— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna)
June 12, 2018
In an interview with actor Anupam Kher last year, the chef had recalled the incident that shaped him as a person early on. In November 1992, Khanna – then a trainee working in the kitchens of Hotel Sheraton Sea Rock – was just completing his shift when he heard of communal violence gripping Mumbai. As the news spread, hotel staffers were barred from venturing outside.
A while later, somebody said that many people had died in a massive fire in Ghatkopar. This spurred him to throw aside his apron and set out in search of his brother, who lived in the same neighbourhood.
On his way, Khanna chanced upon a Muslim family that warned him of rioters in the area. “I told them that my brother was in Ghatkopar, and I didn’t know how to get there. They urged me to come into their house because there was violence raging everywhere,” he said.
On the holy occasion of EID. May every home and heart be filled with abundance, happiness and peace. #EidMubarak
May this EID bring the world together. #Gratitude pic.twitter.com/jGgy0y44oQ— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna)
June 13, 2018
However, somebody had seen Khanna enter their residence. In no time, a mob arrived at their doorstep and began asking about him. His benefactors claimed that he was their son – a Muslim. The mob left, but a scared Khanna stayed with them for the next one-and-a-half days. The family also sent somebody to check on his brother in Ghatkopar, who turned out to be safe.
Khanna lost touch with the family in the years that followed, but the incident left a deep imprint on his heart. Since then, he has made it a point to fast for a day during Ramzan, praying for the strangers who helped him in his hour of need.