Our country is a land of festivals and when one thinks of a festival, especially in India, food is one of the top three things that come to mind. Our festivities start and end with food and so do our rites and rituals.
There is a special dish in every region and every religion for every festival. Yes, it sounds crazy but it’s so true! Be it halwa or gujiya, modak or dry fruit, everything has a celebration it goes with.
It seems like we just need an excuse to eat! As if the customs won’t be complete without that particular kind of food. So if a person is diabetic or has high cholesterol, it really does not matter. When it is Holi, he has to have deep fried gujiya dripping sugar syrup.
Our quest for festive food does not stop at home. The holidays are the peak business time for everyone in the food industry, from international chocolate companies to halwais. Cadbury and Nestle come out with special hampers for all occasions. It could be the very contemporary Friendship Day to the traditional Raksha Bandhan and Diwali. Their advertising tactics change and so do their sale patterns. Local sweet shops have to expand their stores by adding tables and tents till the street to accommodate the kind of business that they are doing.
It’s not just us Indians who find it okay to overeat just because it is celebration time. America eats about 46 million turkeys during Thanksgiving. The population of America is about 313.9 million. So a family of seven in America on an average gobbles up one whole turkey, which weighs roughly about 14 kg. And it’s not just turkey that they have, there are other items on the menu like potatoes and gravy and of course lots of wine.
Then there is Christmas, when the world literally feasts on cakes, cookies, roasts and breads. Wine flows as freely as rivers and so do people from one meal to another.
Children leave out milk and cookies for Santa Claus. God knows how many cookies the poor old man has to eat to keep the children of the world happy! Food dominates festivals rather than the other way around.
October is the month of Halloween, and pumpkins are everywhere, including the pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks. The whole of the Halloween celebrating world seems to be covered in pumpkin flavouring!
Then there is food that looks like blood and also food with black food colour in it. It’s a scare fest all right!
If this is not enough, now that there are special festivals celebrating food. Many countries hold food festivals, mostly organised by big hotels to showcase their cuisines.
Food festivals are specialised and a good place to sample food you have never eaten. They can be as niche as just wine and cheese festivals and can also be a general food festival that showcases local produce as well as chefs.
Food is a culture and it is worshipped. It is a source of comfort and happiness. It definitely deserves all the celebration it gets the world over.
Food brings people closer and makes memories. It has become more than just something you need to survive. This celebration of food is not a recent phenomenon. Harvest festivals have probably been celebrated since man became a gatherer.
It may be the night of Eid or the day of Easter. It may be a birthday or a funeral, food is everywhere, and it is probably the most overlooked component of the event. People take it for granted. Just imagine any event without it, everything would be so empty and will definitely get over really fast!
Festivities and food go hand in hand.
Festivals will definitely not make any sense without food. They will just be a hollow routine of rituals that one needs to do instead of a joyous occasion of togetherness and warmth, just a little something that food does!