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Friday, September 16, 2011

In the land where 'feeding poor' is taught - do we need La Tomatina

“The rich should live simpler so that the poor could live simply”. Different regions have different cultures and in this holy land, lot of importance is given to the ‘food’ – often referred as God (‘Annam Mahalakshmi).  We offer food to God in our prayer.  In Indian culture, much emphasis is placed on giving – feeding the poor.  In olden days, Kings and rich built choultries to ensure that travellers and poor were provided food.  All lives on the Universe depend on food.    "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" is a favorite adage in both frugal and green circles.     Much significance is placed on being frugal, saving prudently and in not wasting anything that can be eaten. 
As could be easily observed most of our festivals make us realize the importance of food and the concept of using it properly and not wasting.  Food is an important part of any celebratory event. No festival or celebration is complete without sweets and the spirit of sharing the food with all.    Rice, mango, jaggery, ghee, banana – all are good things to be offered to God and then to all mankind.  Hinduism advocates avoidance of all food that inhibit physical and spritual development. Conceptually, some foods are considered to promote purity of the body, mind, and spirit; some  are considered innately pure, such as the products from cows. 
Of course religious observance and following faith is individualistic.  But wastage is not good for anybody.  In a country where there are thousands who cannot afford a proper meal, it is crime to waste food.  Our culture hails not wasting food and sharing it with all.  
La Tomatina  is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, in which participants throw tomatoes at each other. It is held the last Wednesday in August, during the week of festivities of Buñol.   Bunol is a town and municipality in the province of Valencia, Spain and is situated approximately 38 km west of the provincial and autonomous community capital city, Valencia.   It is stated that in  1945, during a parade of gigantes y cabezudos, young men who wanted to participate in the event staged a brawl. Since there was a vegetable stand nearby, they picked up tomatoes and used them as weapons. The police had to intervene to break up the fight, and forced those responsible to pay the damages incurred.  From next year onwards, youngsters who repeated started bringing tomatoes and the repeat was unofficially established is how it is believed to have started.
In Spain, trucks loads of tomatoes are used for this.   The tomatoes reportedly  come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive and are grown specifically for the holidays, being of inferior taste.   The tomatoes are crushed before being thrown so as to reduce the risk of injury.  It is termed as the 'World's Biggest Food Fight' where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.  The week-long festival features music, parades, dancing, and fireworks.   Reports suggest that those  who partake in this event are strongly encouraged to wear protective safety goggles and gloves. Another rule is that no one is allowed to bring into this fight anything that may provoke someone into a more serious brawl, such as a glass bottle. After exactly one hour, the fighting ends when the water cannons are fired once more to signal the end. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown. The cleaning process involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct. The authorities seem more concerned with cleaning the town than cleaning the visitors, so some people find water at the Bunol River to wash themselves, although some kind residents will hose passers-by down. Once the tomato pulp is flushed, the ground is clean due to the acidity of the tomato.
While learning from other sources is laudable, sometimes, we tend to ape other culture and end up nowhere.  In what is termed as “ Once in a while there comes an event thats so insane that you just have to go and check it out at any cost” – some are trying to organize La Tomatina in India.  They call is a big fun  hurling tomatoes at each other in an all out frenzy without any consequences! – and added would be the music.   
The event is slated to be held on 18th Sept 2011 at  Emerald Greens, Palace Grounds, Bangalore.  The entry tickets are prized at Rs.899/- for students and Rs.1199/- for Single.  The organizers have stated as some tips & norms – to wear clothes that can be thrown away, change the cloth for return journey, wearing eye protection as tomato is acidic.  
Whether simply throwing tomato on another person could be fun is individual’s choice.  But the amount of wastage of tomatoes, money and clothes can certainly be better used for providing food to others.  There is hunger and malnutrition – it does not sound proper to organize events like these and waste money and especially food.   Let good sense prevail……
Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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