By Hita Prakash and Roshini Muthukumar
Bangalore: ‘Avarebele Mela’, an annual event that takes place on Bangalore’s famous “Thindi Beedi” or Food Street in Visveswarapuram, has a dull-look to it this year. This 12-day event, at the beginning of every year, marks the harvest season of Avarekai (Hyacinth Beans). But this year, owing to rising opposition from residents surrounding the street, the BBMP has refused permission to host the mela.
Every year, the festival attracts lakhs of Bangaloreans, and the number has been growing since its inception in 2000. “The exponential rise in traffic during the event, unorganised parking, and careless waste disposal are the reasons why residents are against the mela from taking place. Now we are hoping that it will be postponed and not cancelled,” said Tejaswini of Shree Vasavi Condiments.
On the Food Street, there is no sign of the ‘Avarebele Mela’ but shops and restaurants continue to make delectable goodies using this winter-bean. The festival started with six dishes and now has more than 100 varieties. A visitor, who was enjoying her Avarebele roti, said: “I visit the mela every year. The food in VV Puram is always good but during avarekai season it is exceptional. A couple of days ago, I brought my friends visiting from the USA, and they went gaga over the food and the varieties.”
Avarekai-based Gulab Jamoon
While a wide range of traditional food items are infused with Avarekai, including akki roti and dosa, there are new inclusions such as pav bhaji and avarekai manchurian, to satisfy modern-day foodies. Mahadesh, a restaurateur at VV Puram, said: “Though we did not get official permission to conduct a festival, most of the restaurants have prepared avarekai-based items. The fast-selling ones are avarebele roti, dosa, gulab jamoon, jalebi, and paddu.”
Inspired by the “Kadlekai Parishe”, the purpose of the Avarekai mela is to support farmers in Karnataka, who grow the hyacinth bean, and promote its sale. Over the years, the festival has become a significant part of Bangalore’s culture and tradition.