Eating Yakitori, Shapta Tingmo and Falafel might not be something many associate with the Republic Day but for students at Jawaharlal Nehru University, it is nothing short of a tradition.
Every January 26, an international food festival is held at JNU. Visitors can gorge on cuisines from various countries at this 15-year-old festival.
“The cooks in the hostels at JNU do not work on Republic Day and all the hostellers come here to eat,” said Yoshito Takakura, 31, a JNU student from Japan who was serving Yakitori (Japanese Grilled chicken) at the stall.
But the festival is not about just food. “For me, it’s an opportunity to assert my political identity,” said Hassan 25, from Palestine, who was serving falafel. “We, too, have a Republic Day in Palestine but our celebrations are a very low-key. We want to project our country as an independent nation and this gives us an opportunity to do so. Plus, it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Students at the Tibetan stall have a similar reason. “We want to spread awareness about the Tibetan struggle for statehood and we use any opportunity we get. Also, everyone appreciates the food and the stall does good business,” said Sonam Tobgyal, 23, a Delhi University student.
The fest was organised by Students for Harmony and Foreign Students Association.
For Ye Xing, 24, the fest was an opportunity to show people what authentic Chinese food tastes like. “The Chinese food you get here is different from the real thing. This festival has given us the perfect opportunity to let people experience what real Chinese food tastes like,” Xing said.