“Even if words are lost, tradition should be handed down.” – Makato Shinkai
Forgetting roots and dismissing heritage – nothing that’s new today. The advent of civilization also brings with it the threat of elimination of the past, and the eradication of ancient practices of the people from the land, often considered ‘uncivilized’. Yet, the very foundation of sustainability insists upon preserving the culture, heritage, and values of the natives – aspects that can actually help the new entrants understand the condition of the soil and the land, and respond accordingly, in order to reduce the damage created by such a movement.
Tata Steel’s Samvad made an attempt to benefit the tribes fighting for survival. A part of Tata Steel tries to help the tribal people preserve their heritage, their art, food, culture, and lifestyle, and increase awareness of the same by documenting them, in order for different tribes to co-mingle. Samvad 2017 in Jamshedpur attempted to congregate a number of semi-extinct tribes and showcased different aspects to increase awareness about the same. In due time, Taj Bengal, Kolkata, hosted a lunch featuring an array of tribal food that aimed at highlighting the kind of food the locals ate.
So, I navigated through platters of rather comforting Simjil Leto (Chicken and rice cooked together) and different kinds of Pitha, bowls of tangy mud crab as well as red and chutney, and small spheres of mahua laddu, promising intoxication. A considerable amount of these ingredients were sourced by a group of tribal ladies who insisted on maintaining the authenticity of the dishes. The meal and the presentation was a revelation explaining to me the amount of work done by Tata Steel to improve the education, sports, livelihood, and other important elements of these people’s lives and that is definitely quite commendable.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to sample the fare at Samvad 2017.