Ontelly

Feasts - India


Series in which food writer and presenter Stefan Gates immerses himself in some of the most extraordinary feasts and festivals on earth. By joining ordinary people in these strange and wonderful distillations of their culture and beliefs, he hopes to gain a revelatory insight into how the world thinks and feels. Stefan makes a journey across India to discover how feasts and celebration divide - and bring together - a turbulent nation that can be riven by religious tension and extremes of wealth. He is shocked to see how much extravagance and social engineering there is in an expensive showpiece Rajasthani Hindu wedding, yet how little emotion is actually expressed. These events are spectacular, and the scale is terrifying for a father of two young daughters. In Kerala, Stefan experiences the bewildering festival of Onam, a Hindu celebration that brings this massive state of millions of people together, Hindu and Christian, rich and poor alike. Over several days he joins almost all of the entire 32m population in sitting down to exactly the same meal - an 11-portion feast eaten with fingers from a banana leaf. Stefan joins in the Pulikali, the tiger dance, and is apparently he first westerner ever to take part. It is the most physically uncomfortable, gruesome day of his life. He has his body hair shaved off with a dry razor, then spends five hours being painted with several layers of household gloss paint, holding on to two sticks to keep his arms outstretched as he dries out. He is then covered in a sweaty, sticky mask and a pair of bordello pants, and packed off into the streets to join his team in dancing like a maniac around the baking-hot streets of the city of Thrissur for four hours.

Credits

  • Presenter Stefan Gates
  • Director Kari Lia
  • Producer Kari Lia