Rashi Sharma: Food, Ethnicity, and Community in India
"Hi my name is Rashi Sharma and I'm an international student from India. Food is a pretty important part of the Indian culture, uh, we eat it and like-everyday, obviously haha- but in all the festivals, the food changes depending on which god you're celebrating and like what time of the year it is. So its pretty- like say- if the economy is doing well, the amount of food and the type of food will be different than what you get at other times so it reflects the economy a lot. Um, when the economy is like down or people don't have as much faith in it-like kind of how America is right now- well the food is more based around starch, and cheaper vegetables but when, say, the economy is going really well, you see a larger amount of meats or seafood and dairy dishes such as paneer. My mom's the main cook and most of the food we eat is form the North of India so it's got more to do with the bread like the bread that you guys have- like the naan that you know of- and like vegetables and lentils and not so much as the rice which is from the south part of India. But things are getting stretched and mixed together now so its all becoming one. My mother's name is Venita (Sharma). No, like in India its usually just the women cook. I mean now things are changing obviously and the guys are trying to cook as well but my dad has like no skills in the kitchen. I mean I guess before people started Westernizing, the women were mostly the people who stayed at home and looked after kids and took care of the house and like stuff like that. Now, they're earning and they're going into all the different professions- like before it was just restricted to nursing and teaching- but now lots of them are going into the business world. We have Holi, the festival of colors and its coming up in March and we have Devali, the festival of lights and its like the Indian New Year and it celebrates basically a god coming back from exile- well thats the history behind it. There's also a festival- and I'm forgetting the name behind it, sorry there's just so many- when you take an entire week to take a god home and you look after it and you put it out to sea and its really intense, oh my god I love it. At festivals (as opposed to everyday fare) its usually a lot more sweets, like I actually don't know the name of it but um sweets is the only thing I can think of like its not chocolate and its not dessert but um- yeah like pastry! wait no, well i don't know. Its like lots of fat and its so good though and you have different kinds of it. And the food, you have variations in that depending on the god. Like you have these things called Murti, like they're for the elephant god. Yeah, everything is more gluttinous. And you also have these things like coconut. Like whenever you have a festival you have to break a coconut like as a means of showing respect to the god, I mean I'm not exactly sure what but yeah you like break the coconut in front of them so that happens a lot during festival season. Um, what do you mean? Oh no, you buy food at the festivals, no one is expected to bring anything from home. Yeah like a fair in America. Yeah, during festival season you have like evening or morning -depending on the family's preference- like prayers. You have this one festival in which you celebrates older brothers, well like the older sibling, so like my sister would tie a little band around me that show that she loves me and then I have to eternally promise to like look after her in like life and stuff. So thats there and its more of like a family thing, not really a community thing. Then there's another festival in which the community hangs a pot from one of the floors outside and the community has to get together to make like a huge ass pyramid and break the pot, oh its so much fun!"