Food is Culture

Yesterday it was the Diwali (also called “Deepavali”), the main festival for the Hindus.

I have written in the past about the significance of Diwali – in fact there are several posts over the years (just search for “Diwali” using the search button on my blog’s home page).

While it remains the key festival day for Hindus, the most crucial thing that happens is how Hindus connect to their culture via food, specifically the folks who live overseas (not in India).

The day of course, starts with prayers, temple visit, exchanging messages and phone calls to close relatives, et al. However, the most important thing is actually getting together with a group of friends for networking, chit-chatting and then try out the best food that comes along.

Obviously, during such occasions there is no “foreign” food – all food is truly Indian, made either at home or ordered from a local Indian restaurant. Any selection of such food is done with lot of care and attention to detail, keeping in mind the folks who would eventually consume the same. So, the quality and variety are assured, with taste topmost in the mind of the selector(s).

Where does the culture angle comes in ?

For most youngsters, food signifies their relationship to the culture they came from. Religious rituals are another factor, but slowly losing their importance in the lives of young folks who do not seem to relate to the same. They follow the rituals sometimes as they have to satisfy their parents or grand parents, but apart from that I would wonder how things would be like in a couple of decades in the impact of religion on peoples’ lives – I mean here the Hindus.

However, I would seriously doubt that food would lose its importance – the Indian food is timeless and has a strong connection in terms of its relationship to the culture and traditions. While Indian fusion food is gaining recognition in places like Mumbai, the traditional food still dominates all over the world when it comes to Indian fare.

I was happy to notice yesterday the vigour with which all folks, but especially the younger ones, connected with the Indian food that was being served at a get-together. The food was good but not outstanding, however the chance to get around and sample various types of Indian food was too tempting to give a pass on the basis of dietary restrictions or calorie intake. Better worry about it tomorrow !

Enjoy your food and connect with your culture, even though it happens once in a while.


Vijay Srinivasan
3rd November 2013


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