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Sunday, July 19, 2009

“Saving Brinjal, the King of Vegetables"

“Saving Brinjal, the

King of Vegetables"

Brinjal Festival in Delhi showcases

diversity of veggie in India”

A colorful and unique event called the BRINJAL FESTIVAL was organized by citizens concerned about this humble vegetable’s diversity being jeopardised and its socio-cultural importance discounted in government policies, in Dilli Haat at New Delhi on Saturday 18th July 2009.

This Festival, organized as part of the I AM NO LAB RAT campaign underway in the city to create consumer awareness on the adverse effects of Genetically Modified Brinjals, sought to get Delhi’ites attention on the issue by this novel event which had more than thirty different varieties of Brinjal from different states on display.

The brinjals on display include Mattu gulla, Ram gulla, Lal begun, Billi-gundu badane, Gauri Bidanur, Sada desi gol begun, Jungly variety, Musuku Badane, Kanta begun, Md. Kuli, Sada Makra, Banamala, Garia, etc.

India is known to be the Centre of Origin and Diversity of this vegetable. There are more than two thousand varieties of brinjal documented here. States like West Bengal are important regions for this diversity.

The Indian diversity in brinjals is reflected in different colors of brinjals (not just the purple ones commonly seen but yellow, white and even red brinjals), in shape (long, round, bulbuous etc.), in size, in the plant quality (spiny, hardy, short etc.) etc. The flavours and taste of these brinjals are also different.

Apart from the importance of this rich diversity of this “King of Vegetables” in the country, the Festival sought to highlight the socio-cultural importance of Brinjal in Indian culture. Brinjal and related species are used extensively in Ayurveda, for instance. It is supposed to have analgesic and aphrodisiac qualities. It is used for liver complaints and for worm infestations. Brinjal is also considered an essential part of a wedding feast in some communities of Andhra Pradesh, for example. Brinjal finds reference in the Ramayana, the great Indian classic epic.

This rich diversity is potentially jeopardized if Bt Brinjal is approved in the country as the first GM food crop and that was what prompted the volunteers of I AM NO LAB RAT campaign to organize this brinjal festival.

In addition to the physical and poster display of brinjal diversity, the Festival put out information on how brinjal can be cultivated without the use of chemical pesticides or GM seeds and thus sought response for a fundamental question with regard to the very need for GM Brinjal. The Brinjal Festival had other attractions for the participants in the form of a quiz competition, cooking competition etc. Some dishes reflecting the diversity of brinjal cuisines from different states of the country were also on display in the Festival, said Kavitha Kuruganti of Kheti Viorasat Mission Punjab and Selva Ganapathi. (9891358457.)

Note: PARYAYA carried here the Cartoon appeared in the Invitation of Brinjal Mela which was drawn by Bavu Pattar for GM Free Karnataka. Thanks for the efforts of Srikanta Ganadhalu.

-Nethrakere Udaya Shankara.

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