The multi-cultural society of Britain and London’s Mayor make a genuine effort to reach out to every community possible by celebrating an array of festivals including Diwali, St Patrick’s Day, Feast of St George, Eid, and New Year’s Eve Fireworks etc. It has worked wonderfully over the years.
Diwali on the square (Trafalgar Square)—a great tourist hub and gateway to Buckingham Palace—is one big attraction during new winter season. In the last five years, the idea of Diwali as a winter event and its celebration has made a dramatic difference. Today, this popular festival attracts thousands of local people and visitors to London. Just like India, street food attracts most of the foreign crowd as the Indian community busy themselves with dance and music.
Other meaningful attribute of this event is the on-going process of ‘going greener’ across all elements of event production by reducing food waste, simplifying energy use, minimising deliveries to lower carbon footprint, offering affordable and locally sourced food, recommending use of public transport and recyclable materials. That will indeed make Indian street food smarter, healthier and more popular worldwide. Regular vendors at this event plan much in advance to cater to a huge crowd and deliver quality food to them.
Every child in Britain knows Diwali today, thanks to hundreds of schools across the country that promote the significance of this festival of light. Vegetarian food is accepted and loved during the festivities. It’s a great promotion for vegetarianism and an opportunity to explore variety from different regions. Only vegetarian food is served during the Diwali celebration at the Trafalgar Square.
A spectacular event like Diwali adds more value to the cultural harmony of this country. You could see children from all backgrounds wearing special costumes and happily participate in processions with music and dance. Every year the focus is on one particular state and Kerala has got its presence this year and fantastic vegetarian dishes from South Indian will be on offer this season.
Another story that arouse excitement and hope is ‘foodinate’. Founded by 23-year-old Caroline Stevenson from Manchester, the concept is designed to support poor people who can’t afford good food. This revolutionary idea is meant to tackle food poverty. Every time ‘foodinate’ branded meal is bought in a participating restaurant or pub, another meal will be donated to those in need.
Caroline, the charity entrepreneur who witnesses the poverty of downtown Manchester Street every time she passes through the area, says, “I felt so angry seeing the growing number of people sleeping by the sides of the road, begging for money and food. With more than 13 million people in Britain living below poverty line, I know this is just the tip of the iceberg and I would like to create a sustainable impact on this enormous issue”
It’s remarkable to see young people who believe in change and come up with notions like ‘foodinate’. This issue is globally relevant as same situation—poverty and excess food—exists everywhere. This is a small but a beautiful solution. Restaurant community, with support from huge number of regular diners, could help this social change to grow.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain of restaurants