Thursday, April 1, 2021

#AtoZChallenge: Avarakai Mela

(Through this month, join me as I take you through various features associated with Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore)

Avarakai is a Tamil word for a type of beans. Mela in many Indian languages means a festival. 

Avarakai mela is an annual festival of beans held at V V Puram (also called Food Steet) in South Bengaluru usually in December-January. It didn't happen this year for obvious reasons.

During this festival, you get not only fresh beans from the farms but also many dishes that are made from avarakai, which is rich in fibre and proteins.

Source: The Hindu
The dishes are all the familiar ones -- dosas, idlis, vadas, jalebis and other sweets. But the essential difference is all of these have avarakai, lending them a totally different taste.

The festival was started in 2001 by the owners of Vasavi Condiments. At first, this gathering was only for the employees of the company. Later, it grew into a much popular festival.

It's during December-January that there is a surplus of avarakai. Farmers aren't always able to sell all of their produce, leading to wastage. According to one of the organisers, the festival originally came up as a solution for the problem the farmers faced -- an occasion to showcase fresh farm-fresh avarakai and also those yummy dishes.

This popular gathering lasts nearly a month, around 200,000 people visit annually. 

By the way, the city is said to have got its name from "boiled beans". The legend has it that sometime in the 11th century, a king lost his way, and a woman served him boiled pulses. The king referred to the place as "benda-kaal-ooru" or town of boiled beans. That metamorphosed over time to Bengalooru and then Bengaluru.

References:

Avarekai anecdotes -- The Hindu

Bangalore's Avarekai Festival - Explocity

In Bengaluru, an ode to broad beans at the Avarekai Mela -- Indian Express

(In response to the comment below by Josna, the post has been revised to include a web link as attribution in the sentence that talks about the origin of the festival.) 


30 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Oh, I say, I had not heard that name origin story before! And you made my mouth water... I need to make some dosa!!! Great start to the month my friend... YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. I did not know there was a festival for avarakai. Thanks for the info. I love that vegetable, especially avarakai molagootal.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That name origin story is interesting. And a healthy festival for avarakkai or beans is something other cities could also emulate.

    Destination Infinity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rajesh - A positive solution to a problem faced by farmers.

      Delete
  4. An interesting read.
    There is another strange festival involving ground nuts or verkadalai celebrated at a temple in Basavangudi. You may ascertain about it for one of your posts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi KP - Yes. It is called "kadalekai parishe". That is also very popular. Thanks.

      Delete
  5. A new tradition! I'm all for that. A brilliant idea to think of a good way to sell all the surplus avarakai. And I had never heard that origin story for Bengaluru--true or apocryphal, I wonder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Josna - That bit about the origin must be true, since it's the organisers who themselves have said. I should have attributed that to the organisers in my post, even though it's there in one of the links.

      Delete
  6. Hi Pradeep - well done ... this will be interesting to read as you go through the A-Z ... I'll enjoy it - fascinating ... all the best - Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  7. As always, it's a pleasure to read your posts Pradeep.
    I've learnt the etymology of Bengaluru and enjoyed the mela virtually. Hopefully, one of these days, I'll get to taste the dishes too:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Arti - Thanks. O, you must; when it's safe to travel and come down to Bengaluru.

      Delete
  8. So many things cancelled by Covid. Such a difficult time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Wendy - Yes. I am sure the festival will be back next year!

      Delete
  9. ♫♫Beans beans the miracle fruit♪♫ I love beans, all kinds of beans. Bean hole beans are my favorite. Just dropping in from the #A-Z Blogging Challenge. Will visit again soon.

    Cheers,
    Crackerberries

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Crackerberries - Thanks for dropping by. Beans, my fave too.

      Delete
  10. That is super cool. I like when folks figure out how to reduce waste. Now I want masala dosa. :) Be well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Darla - I hope you get masala dosa there! Thanks. Take care.

      Delete
  11. That's a good way to cut down on waste. Too bad it couldn't be done this year. I hope next year will be better.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That sounds like a lot of fun. Never been to a bean festival

    Sean
    hisandherhobbies@blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Such an interesting food festival, and this is a cool way to learn a city's history.
    We call this veggie Chikudikaya in Telugu. Not a fan, but would love to attend the mela one day. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Srivalli - O, you must attend this mela. What I liked is the very unique concept behind the festival.

      Delete
  14. Some melas have interesting origins and this seems to belong to that category.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is such an interesting festival. Thank you for writing about it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like this vegetable and my mother used to make it well with chapatti and sometimes even with rice would be tasty. I enjoyed reading this post, never heard of this festival and surprisingly a mela of this vegetable. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete