If there’s something the residents of Ahmedabad love to do, it’s hold a festival. Over the course of the year, there’s a celebration for nearly every change or special date – be it a shift of season or a well-loved deity’s birthday. Of course, many of them are particularly concerned with eating, as well as music, cultural performances and ornamentation of the city. So, if you’re planning to visit a hotel in Ahmedabad it would be a great idea to do it during one of the city’s food festivals. Here are some you should know about.
Satvik Food Festival
The annual Satvik Food Festival is held every December. Its goal is to encourage healthy living and eating and the focus is on traditional dishes packed with nutritious goodness and tasty flavours. Within just a street or two, it’s possible to sample culinary fare from all over India – Punjab, Kerala, Orissa, Maharashtra and so on. As is the case in many other nations in the world, India has struggled with a rise in the consumption of junk food, so the idea of Satvik is to remind people who local fare is not only much healthier, but also much more delicious.
There’s also a special competition for which everyday family cooks in urban areas are asked to submit their best versions of ‘everyday’ dishes. Plus, if you’ve been dying to learn more about Indian food, you can attend sessions and workshops on all kinds of topics, including parenting, organics and traditional cuisine. Satvik is usually held at the campus of the Indian Institute of Management in Vastrapur.
Pongal Food Festival
In mid-January every year, Tamils all over India celebrate Pongal, a harvest festival, which is all about showing gratitude to the sun good Indra for making the crops grow. In Ahmedabad, it happens to coincide with another major festival – the world-famous International Kite Festival – so if you can make it to the city then, you’ll be in for serious partying!
Locals ornament their doorways with ‘rangoli’, a decoration made of ground rice, as well as sugar cane. The festival lasts for four days, the first of which is spent doing some vigorous spring cleaning, which is associated with renewal and rejuvenation. Special foods that are prepared and eaten with family and friends during Pongal include ‘vadai’ (fried chickpea patties served with rice), poli (sweet pancakes), venpongal (a mix of dal and steamed rice) and chakkarainpongol (a delicious sweet snack made of ghee and coarse brown sugar known as jaggery). If you happen to know some locals, or you’re lucky enough to be invited over for a feast, don’t miss out on the opportunity.
Ahmedabad has hosted Durga Puja for more then 75 years. It’s a Bengali festival of epic proportions that’s held in honour of the mother goddess Shakti and run by the Bengal Cultural Association. Preparation begins at least one month in advance. One of its most important aspects is the creation of idols, which is considered to be a holy process. Local artisans gather clay from the River Ganga (or another river, if necessary) and, if they can, mix it with soil gathered from Calcutta’s ‘forbidden territories’ (referred to as nishiddho pallis).
Durga Puja, which happens in mid-October, usually lasts a week, and thousands of devotees visit the festival ground (the ‘pandal’) daily. Families, relatives and friends gather together to eat ‘bohg’, specially prepared meals featuring dishes like moong dal khichdi (dal and rice), charachari (vegetables) and payesh (a delicious rice pudding).