Vikram Sridhar
Vikram Sridhar

Tell a tale: CSMVS Insta live on Indian folklore about food origins

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya along with Vikram Sridhar is planning on bringing traditional stories to the fore in order to ease the stress during these times
By Sammohinee Ghosh
UPDATED ON APR 17, 2020 04:19 PM IST

Try to recollect what we savoured the most as children. Stories. Stories spur curiosity and make us itch for imagination. At a time when the scare of a pandemic forces us to stay indoors, members of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya (CSMVS) in Mumbai, have joined hands to organise a live storytelling session on Instagram. With a view to combat woes and think aloud about food origins in India, Vikram Sridhar will narrate stories that connect us to our roots and traditions. This Sunday live programme on the gram promises to take us through lesser-known tales about Vada Pav, Dhoklas, Sambhar, Paneer Butter Masala, and many more dishes.

“Proceedings at the museum are on hold due to Covid-19, but we have not fallen short of delivering. We continue to deliver to our social, educative responsibilities and hence, this dose of positivity,” says Urvashi Jhangiani, digital marketing manager, CSMVS.

Food shapes our identity

Vikram, a performance storyteller and theatre practitioner, intends to explore the rich heritage of oral literature through folklore. He goes on to explain, “History is not enough for people to relate to their food. That’s why stories must be dished out. For instance, the avocado is widely used today. We keep talking about its advantages, but when exactly was it absorbed into the country’s food culture? Our grandfathers never consumed it. Food items have especial temporal significance as they talk of the-then availability and labour specialisation. My tales will touch upon these aspects.”

On being asked if a talk about gustatory senses in particularly distressing circumstances is necessary, Vikram says, “With the lockdown in effect, we have been made to question our identities. There’s no taking refuge in the usual. Food and its varied origins serve as a mark of identity. It may even help some trace their culture or practices characteristic of their families.” He also agrees that food discussions and photographs are often seen as products of leisure and luxury — an idea that subverts the role of labour, time and politics. He further mentions something as central as the salt or sugar can hint at class struggles (pertinent to the fate of migrant workers now), if we look deeper into times past.

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