People often associate strong emotions of ‘home and comfort’ with certain food and food preparations. This stands true for the first generation Bengali migrants living in the Delhi-NCR area. Each year, during the monsoon season, members of Amraa Shobai, group of Bengali residents from Delhi and NCR, organize the ‘Ilish Porbo’ food festival in Chittaranjan Park (CR Park).
The food festival which serves various home cooked Ilish (a fresh water fish) dishes, is hosted by a Amaraa Shobai group member at their residence in CR Park. Ilish holds a special place in the heart of every Prabasi (non-resident) Bengali as it evokes memories of their home town and childhood.
When asked, what images were evoked when they thought of Ilish, one of the members present replied, “The fish looks very beautiful, it is white and when covered with curd it looks very beautiful. People also like the fish because of its lovely smell. I have been hearing about Ilish since my childhood; how it is great…”
While another member shared, “It is monsoon season and if we don’t find Ilish in this season we feel like the monsoon is unfulfilled. The fish is tasty because it is a fish that swims against the current beginning from the sea and going upstream…”
However, many of the older residents present at the lunch shared their disappointment about the changing food culture among the younger generation growing up in the city. Accoring to them, their children no longer shared the same connection to traditional and local cuisines as them.
Credits / copyrights
Neighbourhood Diaries/ CCK Visual Archive