By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: From a Khasi rice-based steamed bread (Putharo) to an Assamese cuisine (Pitha), the flavour and aroma of the rich and varied indigenous slow food items put out in display at the Slow Food Festival at St Edmund’s College on Wednesday managed to draw the attention of many people.
The slow food festival titled as ‘Granaries of Memory’ on Wednesday attracted many food lovers all over the city who thronged the field of St Edmund’s College to satisfy their desire to experience different kinds of local and not-so-familiar cuisines that remained within the realms of the rural societies.
Jointly organised by the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) department of St Edmund’s College and Meghalaya Rural development Society (MRDS), this festival was organised with an aim to enlighten the people especially the youth who have been accustomed to fast food on the variety of indigenous food from Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
Over 80 indigenous items displayed in 14 different stalls were served ranging from the hot and yummy like Putharo of the Khasis, Pitha of the Assamese, Dosniang (pork), Jadoh (rice cooked in pig blood) and other slow food from states from the region.
“Food festivals are a celebration of local foods that are good, clean and fair and it is being organised with a motive to re-integrate value back into the food systems and food culture”, Dr Carl Rangad, Director of North East Slow Food & Agro-biodiversity Society (NESFAS) said.
Terming Indigenous food as ‘healthy’, Dr Rangad said involvement of the youth is very important as the concept of Indigenous food is basically to maintain our identity, culture and biodiversity for a better future.
Meanwhile, chairman of MRDS and former minister RG Lyngdoh has pointed out that in becoming a global village, the people are becoming a single entity leading a diminishing varied cultures and lifestyles and discouraging preservation of culture. “Slow food is a fight against universalization as it is a threat to loss of identity”, he said.
On the same note, Professor Allanson Wahlang of the BSW department of the college said the problem the state and the region is facing at present is ignorance of one’s own roots which is one part of our indent. Meanwhile, sharing her experience in this field, Bibiana Ranee who is also a grassroot activist said traditional roots are diminishing everyday among the youth stating that “In search for knowledge, the young people tend to forget their roots and cultures and imitate the lifestyle of other communities.” Ranee who resides in Khat-ar shnong near Sohra got a chance to display her traditional cuisines in a slow food festival held at Mawphlang in 2010 and later took part in a festival of the same kind held at Sweden last year. She will also attend another slow food festival to be held at Turin in Italy this month.
Delivering the inaugural address, Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh stressed on the need to expand the choices for the government to partner with such organizations for development of indigenous products while maintaining that the government need to look for means to find avenues to ensure the people has ample opportunities to popularize their culture, traditional and economic activities to give them a place in the global market.
The others who were present included additional chief secretary PBO Warjri, Archbishop of Shillong Rev Dominic Jala, MRDS East Khasi Hills district Project Manager Teilang Khyriem and head of various educational institutions besides college students.