FROM a lunch comprising curried spine gourd and lightly fried bamboo shoots to a visit to an organic farm, a day-long festival in Palghar on Sunday will be an opportunity for city-dwellers to acquaint themselves with the tribal way of life. Now in its third year, the Phulora Festival, organised by the ML Dhawale Trust, based in Vikramgad taluka of Palghar, will showcase a variety of forest produce collected by the Warli community, their traditional cuisine, a Taarpa dance performance and a quick Warli painting class.
“This is the third year of the Phulora Festival, but only the first time that we are scaling it up and taking registrations from those who would like to visit. For the past two years, we mostly invited family and acquaintances,” said Venkat Iyer, an organic farmer associated with the ML Dhawale Trust. He said the idea is for residents of Mumbai to understand and appreciate the treasures of tribal life in the Vikramgad region.
A lunch comprising only preparations of vegetables and tubers growing in the wild, served alongside nachani bhakri prepared by women from self-help groups in 25 villages, will be the festival’s highlight. While more than 30 preparations made from at least 13 different forest vegetables will be on the tasting menu, the lunch will include a dozen items. The women plan to go into the forest starting Thursday to collect the produce — some dishes will be cooked overnight.
Iyer says the adivasis will also share their knowledge about the medicinal benefits of many items. For example, the spine gourd, also known as the kartool, a small round vegetable with spines all over, grows in the monsoon, at the time of the rice transplantation season. “During this season, the tendency to catch a fever increases, as adivasis will be standing in water all day. And they eat the kartool because it’s a preventive medicine against fever,” said Iyer.
Besides the kartool, other items on the menu include tender bamboo shoots and various tubers and chutneys made from leaves and roots. Unusually for adivasi meals, there will also be a sweet dish called Chamtya, made with mealed sorghum and jaggery.
After the festival is over, a visit to an organic farm 12 km away from the venue en route to Mumbai will be arranged for those interested. As Iyer says, it is only 80 km from Mumbai, but a different world.
(Phulora Festival will be held at Bhopoli village, Vikramgad, Palghar, on Sunday, August 18 from 10 am to 4 pm. For registrations, contact 8422928061/2)