Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Whose culture is it anyway?

Yesterday I heard the advertisement for a 'Tomatina festival in Ahmedabad' I had to double check to make sure that this was what I thought it was.

A tomatina festival? In India? In Ahmedabad? How did anyone come up with it? 

On discussion with a few friends, I found out that this happens at a lot of places in India. I honestly could not fathom it. 

The amount of wastage from a Tomatina festival is huge! I don't mean just the tomatoes that are used (which itself is a lot btw) but also the resources that will be spent on a single event. 

India is a country which is almost always on the brink of a drought. If the rains are not regular, a lot of areas in the country suffer from severe water shortages. Drinking water is hard to find for some people. Ground water levels have fallen to worrying levels. 

So what do we do in this time of intense water shortage?

That's right. Lets organize a Tomatina festival. 

I oppose this event based on these reasons:

1. The purpose of a tomatina festival in Spain is very different. Its a cultural event there and that's why its slightly more understandable for them to celebrate it. How does it have any cultural relevance to residents of Ahmedabad? 

2. The tomatoes which are going to be used in this 'festival' could have been used in a hundred better ways. In a country where food inflation is always high, why this wastage of food? 

3. Water used during this 'Rain dance + Tomatina' festival is water which can save a lot of lives. I am not talking about lives in some different country or even some different state. Gujarat faces a drought like situation in its northern cities almost every year. There are people who have to live on very limited water. Crops fail because of water scarcity. 

How do you justify wasting water and other resources for a stupid festival which is not even culturally connected to the city? 

I understand that Narayani Heights, the resort organizing this, is a private company and has the right to do this. I am not saying this is illegal or that it should be forcibly stopped. 

This might not be illegal but it is definitely immoral. 

Also, while we are on the topic, can we please stop adapting random things from different cultures? 

I understand that we should always learn from other cultures but can we please think about what we are adapting?

If you want to, learn how different cultures use public space, learn how they follow the law, learn how they teach their children, learn how they treat their fellow countrymen, learn how they are proud of their culture and most importantly, learn how and what they learn from other cultures.

BBC recently published an article about how India might be facing its worst water crisis yet.

Do we still want to celebrate Holi next year? Let alone go to a Tomatina festival.

I repeat, I don't think its legally wrong but I definitely think its morally wrong.