Mumbai Food: An evening of north-eastern Bihari cuisine and folk music

Nov 24, 2017, 09:33 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Dip into the culture of north-eastern Bihar at an evening of folk music and traditional cuisine

Before she explains the unique folk tradition of Gaali Geet from Mithila, Vibha Rani thinks it important to spell out the difference between gaali and its derivative. "Gaali Geet can be translated as teasing songs. They are not abusive," says the city-based writer, folk singer and theatre personality, who hails from north-eastern Bihar. This Sunday, she will familiarise Mumbaikars with her native region through a performance that amalgamates the oral and culinary cultures of Mithila.

Vibha Rani

Called Namak: Swaad Khane Aur Gaane Ka, the evening will feature Rani and a group of city-based women folk singers from Bihar, who will perform an array of Gaali Geet. "These songs date back to the times when the purdah system was common and women remained confined to their homes. The songs became a way of expressing their distress, and a playful subversion of sorts," elaborates Rani. The songs have also played the role of icebreaker during wedding ceremonies. "When the baraat arrives at the bride's doorstep, her relatives sing Gaali Geet, incorporating each relationship on the groom's side into the songs. Though the songs are meant to make fun of the groom's relatives, if someone's name is left out, they feel offended," says Rani.

A typical meal from Mithila consisting of (clockwise from left) gud ki kheer, mooli ka saag, tamatar ki mithi chutney and mooli ka paratha,  (below) litti chokhaA typical meal from Mithila consisting of (clockwise from left) gud ki kheer, mooli ka saag, tamatar ki mithi chutney and mooli ka paratha, (below) litti chokha

From a sociological perspective, she explains, the songs serve a dual purpose. "With harmless banter, they diffuse the tense situations that may arise between the two families. Also, traditionally, this is the last chance for the girl's family to symbolically get back at the groom's relatives who would henceforth call the shots," she adds, giving a taste of one such geet: Khoob khao, yau dulha/ Khoob mutao, yau dulha/Apan chutkan chutkan gaal ke/Tum fulao, yau dulha. The song, she says, is a jibe at a skinny groom, where the girl's side urges him to eat well and gain weight, so his sunken cheeks fluff up.

litti chokha

The oral folk tradition, however, is fast becoming a relic of the past, with people going for DJs and film songs during wedding revelries. "This performance is an attempt to reacquaint people with these treasures, before they get relegated to history," says Rani, who in a bid to make this effort an inclusive one, has also approached women folk singers from humble backgrounds in Mumbai, hailing from Mithila. "It took me a year to help them shed their inhibitions and overcome restrictions at home."

The other highlight of the evening is the food from Rani's kitchen that will be served to the guests. "The food of Mithila is unexplored," she says, adding that the menu for the evening, apart from the wheat balls and veggie dish of litti chokha, includes ol (elephant's foot) ki chutney and gud ki kheer. "Like they say in Mithila about their language and food, ma se Maithili, ma se meetha," she sums up.

On : November 26, 8 pm
At : Litti Express, E-5 and 6, Green Park, Oshiwara, Andheri West.
Log on to : bookmyshow.com
Call : 9820619161
Entry : Rs.500


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