"Next question, so why are we celebrating a Spanish festival in the first place? To foster bilateral relations with Spain? Definitely not; because it is loads of tangy fun. The whole idea of the Tomatina festival has been popularised by the Bollywood movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. Haven’t you watched it? The next thing you know you’ll be asked to leave the country! Go catch it first thing this evening. The movie of course was immensely popular but even more fame was garnered by the sequence of the tomato festival where the three main leads of the movie; Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol and Farhan Akhtar are romancing the squishy tomatoes along with the gorgeous lady Katrina Kaif."
As quoted on a website, this is the answer to ‘Why this festival in India?’ by organisers for La Tomatina festival Bangalore.
History has it recorded, films and cinema have always inspired individuals to enact what they see on on screens. A similar incident, that provoked me to get involved in this issue in the first place happened recently.
Almost all of us enjoyed Zoya Akhtar’s "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" (ZNMD), a story that revolves around three friends decide to reunite after 4 years of college by taking a trip to Spain. Where they meet Katrina Kaif and experience Spain like never before. One of the events that take place in the film is the famous ‘La Tomatina festival’ held in Valencia a district of Bunol. Of course, everyone who watched the film remembers the festival, the ZNMD had been using the event as a promotional gimmick, but a few decided to do their own version in India. First it was tried in Delhi, I’m guessing it was cancelled due to similar protests.
Now a few enthusiastic individuals in Bangalore have decided to throw an extravagant ‘La Tomatina Bangalore Party’ where they have booked Emerald Greens (Palace Grounds), got trucks full of tomatoes, alcohol, four popular DJ’s to squish & throw tomatoes at each other for hours. Not to mention, the over priced tickets. I was concerned on the amount of tomatoes that will be wasted during this festival. While Spain, being a developed country, hosts this festival in only one city once a year because of cultural reasons and historical association. India, being a developing economy, will have one in every city because we believe in our rights that come with money?
The World Bank estimates that India is ranked 2nd in the world of the number of children suffering from malnutrition, after Bangladesh (in 1998), where 47% of the children exhibit a degree of malnutrition. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world, and is nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth. According to India State Hunger Index (ISHI), Karnataka is one of the 12 states that come under the alarming hunger index.
Finding out all the above information as I thought of the consequences, I decided a week back that I want to contribute to any form of protest against this and I started a petition on change.org titled “Karnataka Chief Minister: Ban La Tomatina festival in Karnataka”, my aim was to ask Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to stop and prevent La Tomatina anywhere in Karnataka.
Within a few days, thousands of concerned citizens from across India signed my petition calling on the Karnataka Chief Minister to ban La Tomatina festivals in Karnataka, calling it as public wastage of food. More than 1500 people have signed the petition and over 8000 more have joined a Facebook group associated with the campaign. (Facebook page: WTF is Tomatina in Bangalore, Use that money to feed the poor.)
In addition to our efforts online, I approached the Deputy Commissioner of Urban Bangalore and filed a complaint with him. He accepted our complaint on the basis that this event is promoting public wastage of food which should not be acceptable in any district in a country like ours.
If the moral injustice of this isn’t enough, after checking with the government, it turns out that permissions have not been taken from BBMP or the Police Commissioner either! And despite not having permission to hold the event the organisers are continuing to sell tickets. What is even more suspicious is that there seems to be no publicly available information on who the organisers are and what company is receiving the funds, which makes me concerned for those who already paid to attend the event.
We’ve spoken with the Mayor’s office, the Chief Ministers office and the Commissioners office and they’re appearing increasingly sympathetic to what we’re calling for.